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Common Medical Holiday-Related Myths Debunked
« on: December 20, 2008, 04:49:07 AM »

 The time of the holidays is also a time when parents fear that too much sugar ingested by their children, usually in the form of chocolate, candy and other sweets, can harm them and make them hyperactive. Some also believe that festive meals, served late at night, can cause them to gain weight, even if they eat responsibly.

Two scientists, Rachel Vreeman and Aaron Carroll, from the Indiana University School of Medicine, set out to debunk some of the most widespread myths about the Christmas season, which they say are simply not true. So they started browsing previous studies and searching the web for evidence to the contrary. Their discoveries were published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

"In the pursuit of scientific truth, even widely held medical beliefs require examination or re-examination. The holiday season presents a further opportunity to probe medical beliefs recounted during this time of year," they say.

"Regardless of what parents might believe, however, sugar is not to blame for out-of-control little ones," their paper reads. Most parents believe, with no scientific background, that their children become hyperactive around Christmas because of the larger amounts of chocolate and sweets they eat, but Vreeman and Carroll say that this is not the case, and that the kids are simply excited because everyone around them is.

People also believe that, with cold weather, they have to put on woolen hats, so as to avoid losing heat through the head. "If this were true, humans would be just as cold if they went without trousers as if they went without a hat. But this patently is not the case," the researchers say.

They also add the fact that all common cures for headaches caused by hangovers may only work on individuals alone and are not a valid treatment for this condition. "From aspirin to bananas to Vegemite and water, Internet searches present seemingly endless options for preventing or treating alcohol hangovers. No scientific evidence, however, supports any cure or effective prevention for alcohol hangovers," they conclude.

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