Urban Legends

By: Deborah McGrath, SNP Coordinator

Have you ever heard the theory that if you say something enough times you’ll start believing it? I think it holds true for things you hear, too. If you hear something over and over it must be true, right? Wrong.

How many of you have been told and believe the following:
“If you pull a gray hair out, two will grow in its place.”
“If you read in poor lighting it will ‘ruin’ your eyes.”
“You must drink 8 glasses of water to remain healthy.”

According to snopes.com, all of the above are either untrue or unproven. But how many of us have heard and believed them?! I, personally, think my mother invented the second one.

What is snopes.com? It is a website dedicated to dispelling “urban myths,” stories that circulate throughout the community that aren’t necessarily true.

For example, I recently received a rather lengthy, seemingly well-researched article via email on the negative effects of a sugar substitute. I had heard some of it before and even read some of it in my nursing journals… but some of it was brand new to me! Much of it was quite serious, the type of medical advice you’d want to pay attention to. The question was: Was any of this new information valid? Not according to snopes.com!

You can search Snopes to see if the reports you hear are true. I especially urge you all to consider doing this when you receive advice or articles of a medical nature, and be sure to talk to your family doctor soon after. You might be allowing yourself to become alarmed for no reason.

There are legitimate sources of medical advice you can rely on instead, like the Center for Disease Control (CDC) at www.cdc.gov and American Medical Association (AMA) at www.ama-assn.org.

So before you panic and start to change everything in your life based on the advice in these reports, remember this old saying: “Don’t believe everything you hear!”

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