Medical myths busted

As you swallow the big, now flavourless piece of gum in your mouth, your friend gives you a blank look and slowly mouths the words, “you do know that bubble gum will stay in your body for 7 years?” and you think, ‘that can’t be good’…

The basis of the rumour is unclear, although once in a while a medical case arising from swallowed gum, such as a boy who had ingested five to seven pieces of the sticky substance and ending up with chronic constipation, does little to dismiss the rumour.

Paediatric gastroenterologist, David Milov, dispels this rumour, saying with “complete certainty” that gum does not stay in your body for such a long period of time. With the enzymes and acids inside your stomach, the gums flavourers, sweeteners and softeners are digested. The gum base is the only component of the chewy sweet that will be left, but even this will go through the same process as any waste product in your body.

As you read that novel you’re completely absorbed in, time flies, and all of a sudden it gets dark fast and your eyes start straining to see the tiny black words. You’ve heard that reading in the dim light can damage your vision, so you stop and put the book down.

According to a study published by the British Medical Journal, which debunked the myth – reading in dim light permanently affecting your eyesight, is one of the most common myths believed by doctors. When reading in low light, your visual muscles relax to collect the most light, while also contracting to maintain a focused image. In the low light the eye struggles to distinguish visual detail and your eye works harder. This may result in experiencing headaches, blurriness and feeling as if your eyes are straining or hurting, but in actual fact no lasting detriment will occur.

Dr Robert Cykiert, an ophthalmologist, says that this rumour is untrue. “It may create fatigue, but cannot hurt your eyes in any way”. The only proven way your vision can become poorer is with age and family or hereditary history.

Choosing an interesting looking book off the shelf, you walk towards the closest chair and take a seat next to a young man in the silent library. As you intently page through the book, you hear a loud cracking noise coming from the man next to you. You ask yourself if he knows that cracking his knuckles can give him arthritis.

Joint cracking can occur because of escaping gases within the lubricant in your joints and the movements of joints, tendons and ligaments.

Studies conducted by the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, confirmed that there was no proven link between cracking your knuckles and osteoarthritis in the hand. In fact, research has shown that there is no compelling statistical difference in the predominance of osteoarthritis between those who crack their knuckles and those who don’t.

Lisa Isaacs

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