Reader's Digest US
Fitness Cold Virus Obesity Heart Attack Depression Image Credit: Reader's Digest US
Fitness Cold Virus Obesity Heart Attack Depression Image Credit: Reader's Digest US

50 Health Facts Your Doctor Wants You To Know

Knowing which of these statements have been verified by SCIENCE—and which are MYTHS—could boost your health

Marissa Laliberte

1 Cold weather makes you sick.

Myth! Germs are the only thing that can make you sick. You can go out in the freezing cold with wet hair, and if there aren’t any germs around, you’ll stay sniffle-free. But there is a correlation: The viruses that cause the common cold thrive in low temperatures.

2 Not all heart attacks involve chest pain.

Truth! A 2012 study of more than 1.1 million heart attack patients found that 31 percent of men and 42 percent of women didn’t have any chest pain before being hospitalized. The American Heart Association recommends calling 911 for other symptoms, too, including shortness of breath, light-headedness, and pain elsewhere in the upper body.

3 Being overweight shortens your life expectancy.

Myth! It’s what researchers call the “obesity paradox,” though the “overweight paradox” would be more accurate. Obesity is linked with a host of health problems, including so-called all-cause mortality, but the evidence isn’t strong for over weightness. A recent review looked at ten studies of more than 190,000 people and found that overweight people had the same longevity as normal weight adults, though they did have a higher risk of heart disease.

4 You shouldn’t ice a burn.

Truth! Most skin damage from a burn comes from the inflammatory response, and ice can damage cells and make it worse. Instead, immerse the burn in cool water for about five minutes. Then wash with mild soap and apply an antibiotic ointment.

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