9 Things to Stop Worrying About

In the old days—just a few years ago, in fact—health misinformation would spread slowly. Not today.


In the old days—just a few years ago, in fact—health misinformation would spread slowly. Not today. “The Internet has given people the ability to send everyone on their e-mail lists wild stories that end up mushrooming around the world in a matter of hours,” says Rich Buhler, creator of Truthorfiction.com, a Web site devoted to debunking false e-mail rumors. But relax: Most of those health scares hitting your in-box are a misreading of facts or a deliberate twisting of the truth.


Drink eight glasses of water a day
In 1945, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board told people to consume eight glasses of fluid daily. Before long, most of us believed we needed eight glasses of water, in addition to what we eat and drink, every day.

The Truth: Waters great, but you also whet your whistle with juice, tea, milk, fruits, and vegetables—quite enough to keep you hydrated. Even coffee quenches thirst, despite its reputation as a diuretic; the caffeine makes you lose some liquid, but youre still getting plenty.

Contrary to common belief, urine color is not a great sign of dehydration, says Rachel Vreeman, MD, a fellow in Childrens Health Services Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis: “If youre thirsty, you should drink.” But dont overdo it. Drinking too much can lead to hyponatremia, in which sodium levels fall, causing an electrolyte imbalance that can make you very sick.

Stress will turn your hair gray
The carpool, the spilled milk, the deadlines. Who doesnt believe that hair products make covering them a cinch.

Reading in poor light ruins your eyes
Its the common-sense refrain of mothers everywhere—reading under the covers or by moonlight will ruin your eyesight.

The Truth: “Reading in dim light can strain your eyes,” Snyderman explains. “You tend to squint, and that can give you a headache. But you wont do any permanent damage, except maybe cause crows-feet.”

Your overtired eyes can get dry and achy, and may even make your vision seem less clear, but a good nights rest will help your peepers recover just fine. (Read about vision-friendly foods here.)
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Dorothy Foltz-Gray
Last Updated: April 18, 2008

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