No Joke About Health

While the origin of some holidays — like April Fool’s Day — remains cloaked, information about medical facts shouldn’t be. Check out some of these common claims to learn what’s true… and what’s just foolish:

Cracking knuckles causes arthritis? Some studies suggest habitual knuckle-cracking may cause soft tissue damage that leads to osteoarthritis (which commonly affects non-knuckle-crackers as well). However, evidence debunks any link to rheumatoid arthritis.

Cold causes colds? While colds seem more prominent in cold weather, temperature (other than hypothermia) doesn’t compromise your immune system. The culprit is a virus, which raids your body through sneezes and coughs that spread about in close quarters. And forget about feeding your cold or starving your fever. Diet has little to do with recovery time once you get a bug. A greater factor is proper hydration.

Reading in the dark ruins vision, carrots improve it? Straining to see in dim light may tire your eyes, but it won’t diminish your sight (just ask bookworms from yesteryear who failed to go blind under candlelight). And while your body does convert beta-carotene (found in carrots) into vitamin A — a key nutrient for healthy eyesight — most Americans get enough in their diets. Recent studies link beta-carotene and risk reduction for age-related macular degeneration. The problem: You’d have to eat a lot of carrots to match the high level of beta-carotene the study participants took in the form of vitamins and minerals supplements.

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