Banner Health Services  

Online Health Care Myths

Dr. Sandra Miller  

Sandra Miller, MD, is the assistant director of the Family Medicine Resiency Program at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix.

Question: With all the health information available online, have you come across some medical “myths” or “secrets” that you can share?

Answer: With so much information available through the Internet, “secrets” don’t really exist, though misrepresentations do. Following are some of the more notable myths that warrant addressing:

Myth: More women die from breast cancer than any other cancer.

Fact: Actually, lung cancer from smoking kills more women annually than breast cancer. And tobacco-related illnesses like emphysema and heart disease are equally dangerous. Stop smoking and your risk of having a heart attack is cut in half in a year. Consult your physician for smoking cessation resources and quit now.

Myth: Getting healthy always requires the help of a specialist.

Fact: Daily exercise and healthy eating are two significant and reasonably simple approaches to improving your health. Start today and you’ll experience less depression, live longer, reduce your diabetes risk, improve bone strength, and even delay the onset of dementia.

Myth: A daily vitamin provides complete nutrition.

Fact: Most get excellent nutrition from the highly-fortified American diet.  Our foods, especially bread and cereal products, are highly fortified.  Most vitamins that people take get kicked out of the body in the urine because they are not needed.

On the other hand, it is recommended that most women take vitamin D and calcium supplements for healthy bones, especially those who live in colder climates where there may be no sunshine on the skin for months at a time, or women who eat no dairy products.

People with extremely limited diets may benefit from certain vitamins.  There are certain vitamin deficiency syndromes, such as a vitamin B12 deficiency in older people, those who take medications to reduce stomach acid, or those who have had bariatric surgeries -- people with those conditions may need extra B12.

Myth: Alcohol is only damaging if you are addicted to it.

Fact: You don’t have to be addicted to alcohol to be negatively affected by it. Alcohol can disrupt sleep, damage the heart muscle, nerve cells and liver, and cause loss of bone density. Alcohol should be consumed only in moderation, defined by one drink per day for women and two for men.

Reviewed April 2015

Page Last Modified: 04/16/2015
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