Health sciences: But just what IS a medical myth?

Blue Hare <em>Sugar</em> Pot

Sugar: Current villain in human mortality

From Robin Nixon, Elizabeth Peterson and Karen Rowan (October 2016) at LiveScience:

25 Medical Myths that Just Won’t Go Away

Despite what you may have heard, drinking eight glasses of water a day isn’t the key to good health. Also, neglecting to wear a coat on a cold day won’t make you sick. And — you might want to sit down for this — pregnancy doesn’t last nine months.

Health-related myths are often repeated as fact, even though any diligent Google search will reveal the truth behind these fallacies. Here are 26 of the most common medical myths, debunked.More.

Hmmm. Some women distinctly recall pregnancy lasting a year and a half. 😉 No, but seriously, while it’s good to read through a list like this, we should reflect soberly on how much has been promoted as orthodox science that isn’t well founded. And laws, tax practices, and public policy were based on it.

<em>Butter</em> dish by DShopping on

Not the villain in this version of the tale

For example, from Markham Heid (September 2016) at Vice:

“The change in dietary advice to promote low-fat foods is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history.”

Recently, research has come out strongly in support of dietary fat and cholesterol as benign, rather than harmful, additions to person’s diet. Saturated fat seems poised for a similar pardon.

“The science that these guidelines were based on was wrong,” Robert Lustig, a neuro-endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, told Tonic. In particular, the idea that cutting fat from a person’s diet would offer some health benefit was never backed by hard evidence, Lustig said.

Just this week, some of Lustig’s colleagues at UCSF released an incendiary report revealing that in the 1960s, sugar industry lobbyists funded research that linked heart disease to fat and cholesterol while downplaying evidence that sugar was the real killer. More.

This is why some of us say, scientists should feel free to march if they want, but their actual problems are more likely to be back at the desk than out in the streets.

Also, keep up to date with Retraction Watch

See also: New Scientist: EU green energy policies making global warming worse We didn’t realize it was still legal to say so.


The skinny on salt, veggie oil,, skim milk, whole foods. Nutrition science is nearly baseless but it rules.
Sitting does not increase overall mortality risk.

  • Exile1981

    I was reading the other day that the new president of coke has agreed to the UN “request” to phase sugar out of their products and replace it with artificial sweeteners and / or styvia.

    • Waffle

      IMHO processed foods are the killer.

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        I say it’s mostly being overweight combined with lack of exercise, but at the end of the day that’s only my best guess.

    • canminuteman

      I am not a huge soda drinker but I do enjoy a coke when I am at a restaurant or fast food place. I recently tried a “Coke Life” – you might have seen it, it’s the Coke with the green label, It is sweetened with a mixture of stevia and sugar. It is not no cal, but it is about half of what regular Coke it. I didn’t like it at all. If Coke gets rid of sugar and replaces it with artificial sweeteners, I will no longer drink Coke. I am pretty fit for my age, I don’t need anyone telling me what to eat, and as bad as (some) people think sugar is, I’ll take my chances with it rather than consuning the artificial substitutes.

      • Exile1981

        I’m in the same boat. I drink a coke once in a while. I find it great for clearing my throat after a particularly dirty job. I also tried the green coke life and tossed 3/4 of the can away as it was crap. i don’t mind styvia in some things but the coke life is nasty. Evidently the coke president is heading in that direction. I sent the full article to BCF but I’m not sure if it was posted or not.

      • A Hamilton Guy

        I don`t drink any of that shit. did you ever see what happens to a piece of meat left in it.

        • dance…dancetotheradio

          My sister used my baby eye tooth for a science project.
          I was kind of pissed off, actually.
          She didn’t ask me.
          My mom was a bit of a hoarder.
          She kept all of our baby teeth.
          And she gave my sister one of mine to marinate in coke for a few days.

        • canminuteman

          No, I haven’t. But I can’t imagine it’s a lot different than what a piece of meat would look like if you left it in beer.

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        I’m very dubious of the safety of any artificial sweetener, but I’m just as confidant that drinking a six-pack of sugar sweetened soft drinks a day will put you in the ground just as fast.

        • canminuteman

          I don’t know. I don’t think it’s that simple. When I was younger and worked construction I could down a dozen cans of sugar sweetened iced tea a day and I was lighter than I am now. I could stand to lose ten pounds but I am in a lot better shape than most fifty somethings. I suspect it would be a problem if I still did it and did it year round but in the job I was doing I was likely burning at least a thousand calories a day more than the average office drone.

      • mauser 98

        old post style car battery terminals would clean up real good with Coke

  • bargogx1

    Sugar is the problem and always has been, but the chemical alternatives are even worse.

    • A Hamilton Guy

      You are so right.

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      Look up Donald Rumsfeld and aspartame.
      Conspiracy theories abound.

      • mauser 98

        there is a good it years ago

  • Brett_McS

    Typically, the scientist’s paper will have all the error bars and the qualifications, but these will be left out of the science journalist’s report on the paper.