Beware Of Medical Myths

The Bookworm

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

When it comes to your health, don’t listen to your computer, neighbor or mom

Your friend swears that she absolutely must drink eight glasses of water each day. She says it’s for her health. But you’re a little confused. She also drinks coffee, and isn’t that a diuretic? But she says she needs caffeine to stave off Alzheimer’s and she thinks the cream she pours in the cup will keep her bones strong. Plus, she claims, java keeps her cholesterol down.
You’ve heard water is important and coffee is bad. Meanwhile, your friend says she’s backed up by modern science.
In the book “Medical Myths That Can Kill You” by Nancy L. Snyderman, M.D., you’ll learn the truth about these folktales, as well as some common beliefs that could literally put you in an early grave.
With the availability of information on the Internet and the cost of health care these days, diagnosis and treatment by do-it-yourself medicine is tempting. Don’t do it, Snyderman says. When it comes to taking care of yourself, listening to your computer, your neighbor or Mom may be bad for you.
No. 1 — perhaps most importantly — never skip your annual physical. Make a yearly appointment on your birthday, so you never forget it. Ask questions, be an active partner with your doctor and stifle your fear. Early diagnosis for a serious malady is key to surviving it. And keep in mind that the Internet is a great information tool, but your home computer can’t evaluate your symptoms.
Be vocal if you don’t think you’re being treated right. Find a doctor you can trust and who shows interest in you beyond the physical examination.
Keep up to date on your vaccinations.
Be aware of heart disease and stroke at any age.
Understand that cancer is not a death sentence.
As for those tried-and-truisms that you’ve believed all your life, well, many of those aren’t true. You can’t catch a cold by going outside. Chocolate doesn’t cause acne, but can be good for your body. You can eat ice cream for dinner now and then and live to tell. Neither cell phones nor antiperspirant cause cancer. “All natural” doesn’t mean all safe. You can’t just “snap out of” depression.
And your friend’s beliefs? She’s right and she’s wrong.
I normally take good care of my books, but my copy of “Medical Myths That Can Kill You” is dog-eared and slightly worn. That’s because I spent a lot of time flipping back and forth, amazed at what I believed versus the truth.
It’s easy to be scared or to overreact when it comes to taking care of yourself, but Snyderman (who has roots in Arkansas, by the way) makes it feel easier to be healthy. This book will help you focus on the important things to keep you well, and it winnows out the quaint-but-useless old wives’ tales from the things that are true and valid.
Now out in paperback, “Medical Myths That Can Kill You” is an incredible bargain at less than $20. Get one for your bookcase, and never make a myth-take with your health again.

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