London: Reading in dim light won’t damage your eyes, you don’t need eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy and shaving your legs won’t make the hair grow back faster.
These well-worn theories are among seven "medical myths" exposed in a paper published on Friday in the British Medical Journal, which traditionally carries light-hearted features in its Christmas edition. Two US researchers took seven common beliefs and searched the archives for evidence to support them.
Despite frequent mentions in the popular press of the need to drink eight glasses of water, they found no scientific basis for the claim.
The other six "myths" are:
Reading in dim light ruins eyesight : The majority of experts believe it is unlikely to do any permanent damage, but it may make you squint and blink more
Shaving makes hair grow back faster or coarser: It has no effect on the thickness or rate of hair regrowth, studies say.
Eating turkey makes you drowsy: It does contain an amino acid called tryptophan that is involved in sleep and mood control. But turkey has no more of the acid than chicken or minced beef.
We use only 10% of our brains: This myth arose as early as 1907 but imaging shows no area of the brain is silent or completely inactive.
Hair and fingernails continue to grow after death: This idea may stem from ghoulish novels. The researchers said the skin dries out and retracts after death, giving the appearance of longer hair or nails.
Mobile phones are dangerous in hospitals: Despite widespread concerns, studies have found minimal interference with medical equipment.