6 Holiday Health Myths

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I'm addicted to the New York Times Health blog called Well. I always find surprising, enlightening health info from writer Tara Parker-Pope.

Like today--I couldn't believe some of these medical myths she uncovered until I read them.

I really thought poinsettias were poisonous, and I freaked when my toddler tried to eat one the other day. Turns out, poinsettias are non-toxic. Here are 6 common holiday health myths that many of us still believe.

Dr. Aaron Carroll and Dr. Rachel Vreeman of the Indiana University School of Medicine were the researchers, as quoted in the Well column.

  1. Sugar makes kids hyperactive. Even when kids had a diagnosis of hyperactivity problems or were said to be more sensitive to sugar, they did not behave differently whether they ate sugar-laden or sugar-free diets. In fact, the biggest effect of sugar may be on parents. Parents rate their children as being more hyperactive if they are told the child has consumed sugar — even when the child hasn’t really had any sweets.
  2. Suicide increases over the holidays. Suicides are more common during warm and sunny times of the year, studies show. There is no evidence of a holiday peak in suicides.
  3. Poinsettias are toxic. Among 22,793 poinsettia exposures reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were no deaths or significant poisonings. A study of poinsettia ingestion found that when rats were given doses equal to a person consuming 500 to 600 poinsettia leaves, the plant wasn’t toxic.
  4. You lose most of your body heat through your head. Even the researchers thought this was true. Typically, we don’t lose more than 10 percent of body heat through our heads. The bottom line is that any uncovered part of the body will lose heat, which is why wearing a hat, even when you’re bundled up everywhere else, is important.
  5. Night eating makes you fat. Studies show an association between obesity and eating more meals late in the day, but that doesn’t mean eating at night causes obesity, the doctors point out. Eating more at any time of day will cause weight gain if it results in ingesting more calories than you need.
  6. Hangovers can be cured. The researchers found no scientific evidence supporting any type of cure for alcohol hangovers. Because hangovers are caused by drinking too much alcohol, the only way to avoid one is to drink very little or not at all.

Next year, the researchers will be disproving more commonly held notions in their new book, Don’t Swallow Your Gum: Myths, Half-Truths, and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health, to be published by St. Martin’s Press.

Are you surprised by any of these findings? Do you believe them?

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