Marta SieczkoLiving in the information age seems to mean that every day we are hit with a mass of shocking news regarding our health. On Monday we should drink a glass of wine to lower the risk of heart diseases. On Tuesday drinking tea is good for your heart. On Thursday tea contains large doses of caffeine boosting your metabolism. On Friday caffeine is not good for you. On Saturday coffee has a good effect on your concentration. On Sunday coffee causes cancer. By the time you’ve caught up with the week’s health research news, you get sick just thinking about it.

So, I thought I would do some research of my own and present five common health ‘myths’ in today’s society.

1. You cannot overdose on vitamins

Multivitamin supplements are highly popular today. We take them to be healthier and stronger, they shouldn’t cause us any harm, right?

Wrong. Overdosing on popular and ‘safe’ vitamins such as vitamin E or beta-carotene can actually end tragically – remarkably it increases the risk of death by over 15%. Research shows that people who overdose on vitamins become ill more often and have a tougher time overcoming those sicknesses.

This is even true for the widely admired vitamin C, which is considered completely safe, since its overdose is disposed of in urine. Unfortunately, large doses of this supplement, which we tend to take during the winter season to avoid or get rid of a cold, increase the risk of getting kidney stones.

The highest risk connected to overdosing vitamins occurs when at the same time we’re taking pills for heart diseases, gastrointestinal tract, or depression. These drugs tend to react with multivitamin pills and can lead to serious conditions.

2. Men’s age at conception does not matter

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It is commonly known that the older the woman when she becomes pregnant, the higher the risks for the foetus. Research has nevertheless shown, that the age of the father at the moment of conception also has a significant meaning. For instance, the older the father, the higher the risk of the child developing schizophrenia. It is still unclear as to what exactly causes this dependence, but the number of people with schizophrenia at the age of 21 is almost five times higher for people whose father was 50 or older at the moment of conception as opposed to those whose father was younger than 25.

In a study of several million children, a slight relationship has been discovered between a father’s advanced age and higher occurrence of leukaemia and brain tumours. Furthermore, children with older fathers are more likely to suffer from congenital disorders and genetic disorder such as achondroplasia or Marfan syndrome.

3. Light and menthol cigarettes are not as dangerous as traditional cigarettes

Let’s just agree that smoking, in general, is bad for you. And no matter what you tell yourself, the scientists will prove you wrong.

Many people consider light or menthol cigarettes less harmful. Nonsense. In fact, they are suspected to be worse than the regular ones.

All cigarettes, light and menthols included, contain a mixture of about 4,000 chemical substances out of which about 40 are known to cause cancer. Menthols, on top of that, include a wider (and more dangerous) mixture generating the taste. With the menthol taste covering the irritant smoke outcome, many people tend to take a stronger drag on the cigarette, leading to additional cancer-causing damage. Studies have also shown that smokers of menthols have a harder time quitting, since the menthol taste is making the cigarettes more addictive. And menthol makes it easier for the carcinogenic substances to enter our bronchia.

4. Frequent showers shorten your life

Well, that one’s sort of true. Let’s make it clear: you have to wash your hands as by doing so we get rid of dangerous disease causing bacteria. And no, just water without soap is not enough.

Morning and evening showers are equally important for the hygiene. By showering we dispose of dead skin cells, bacteria, and dirt – the cause of our sweat’s smell.

However, too much hygiene can be dangerous. By showering we are disturbing the acid-base balance of our skin and removing an important protective layer of acids produced by our skin cells. By showering too often we remove not only the bad but also the good bacteria caring for us. This can cause our skin to become dry, peel, and be more sensitive to cold wind, sun’s rays, allergies, and even fungus and other diseases.

5. Coffee is bad for you

I don’t think there is any substance I read about in health news as often as I read about coffee (although it could possibly share first place with alcohol and the famous ‘glass of red wine a day’).

Technically, coffee hasn’t been proven to have any effect the development of coronary heart diseases or tumours. In fact, coffee lowers the risk of Parkinson, Alzheimer, diabetes type 2, and gout. For people with various heart diseases, overdose of caffeine can cause dangerous irregular heartbeat, but that risk doesn’t occur as long as they stick to the ‘regular’ daily 275 mg intake of caffeine (one cup of coffee should have between 80-150 mg).

Coffee can increase the blood pressure by even 10 mmHg, but only for people who don’t drink it on regular basis. So even for someone with high-blood pressure problems, if consumed regularly, coffee shouldn’t have a negative effect.

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