5 Ridiculous Health Myths You Probably Believe

Bullshit is so prevalent when it comes to health and diet advice that there's a good chance even your doctor gets a lot of it wrong. There are so many myths and old wives' tales out there, and for every one that happens to be true, there are dozens that amount to little more than superstition. It's a thankless task, knocking down these myths, but one we believe is for the ultimate good of humanity. So get ready to scream "bullshit!" the next time you hear ...

#5. "Better Pour Hydrogen Peroxide on That Cut Before It Gets Infected!"

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The Myth:

We're going to bet that in your medicine cabinet, or somewhere in your house, you have a little brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Riddled with antiseptic properties and a near-magical disinfecting ability, hydrogen peroxide is the shit when it comes to showing bacteria its place. Hell, hospitals use it. The stuff even has special effects -- you can tell that it works by observing the bubbly foam it produces as a side effect of kicking germ ass.

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And did we mention that you can use it as freaking rocket fuel?

But Actually ...

The roots of the myth of mighty hydrogen peroxide run so deep that scientists actually haven't bothered to research its wound-cleaning capacities until fairly recently. When they finally got around to it, peroxide's high horse instantly bolted and ran the hell away, neighing angry obscenities at its fallen rider as it went. For starters, that "healing" foam is completely useless -- it's just a natural chemical reaction with the catalase enzyme in your blood, creating an effect not unlike a tiny baking soda volcano spouting from your wound. Neat, yes, but not the thing you're looking for if you're actually planning to get better.

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And there are easier ways to place first in the science fair.

OK, so we're prepared to accept that the foam is just smoke and mirrors. After all, hydrogen peroxide still kills all the bacteria at the site of a wound.

Except, well, it actually doesn't manage even that. It turns out that while hydrogen peroxide has no negative effects on the healing of wounds (other than a false sense of security, we suppose), it is pathetically ineffective at reducing bacterial count or inhibiting bacterial growth in a wounded area.

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It's basically like using a Snickers wrapper as a condom.

So what should you put on a wound? Antibiotic creams like Neosporin seem to work (though some say Vaseline works about the same). But there's just something so satisfying about the way hydrogen peroxide makes our wounds all fizzy. Can they add something to Band-Aids that does that? It's like the pointless burning sensation caused by Listerine -- we want some kind of sensation to let us know the medicine is working, damn it!

#4. "Never Wake a Sleepwalker!"

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The Myth:

Sleepwalking individuals must be left alone ... or else. If a sleepwalker is awakened by a well-meaning bystander, it strains his or her system to the point that it might cause serious injury, in the form of heart failure and other assorted hazards. The shock is, in fact, so severe that it could kill them.

So whatever you do, never ever ever wake sleepwalkers. Just draw a dick on their forehead and let them go forth, it's fine.

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And, if circumstances permit, strap a bowl of warm water to their hand.

But Actually ...

Guess what really happens when you wake up sleepwalkers: They wake up. Seriously, that's it. No gruesome deaths, no dramatic injuries. True, they might be groggy and disoriented, but come on -- who doesn't feel that way when some bastard suddenly comes and shakes you awake in the middle of a dream in which you thought you were fighting zombies with your old gym coach?

Sure, there are situations where sleepwalkers are best left to their own devices -- you don't want to induce sudden confusion in a dude who is successfully sleep-taming a lion with a hula hoop and a stick of cheap bologna. Still, all things considered, it's usually more dangerous to not wake them up. After all, the other thing they say about sleepwalkers -- that they can't hurt themselves -- is also a big steaming pile of lie turds. Sleepwalkers have been documented indulging in all sorts of shenanigans, from sending emails to attempting to drive across state to screwing up in ways that get them in a Cracked article. There's no telling what a somnambulist's brain will put his body through. You could stroll into the nearest biker bar wearing a ballet tutu over a pair of assless chaps, kick every single motorcycle, and flip off their owners, then wake up with your middle finger still extended. Wouldn't it have been nice if someone had just ignored the myth and tackled you to the ground on your way there?

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Although if you're the type that sleeps in the nude, you're pretty much on your own.

#3. "I'm Exhausted Now, Good Thing I Can Sleep in on Saturday!"

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The Myth:

The 21st century has given us a great many things: constant technological innovations, unprecedented quality of life, and an unlimited supply of porn. Still, it's not all smiles and eyebrow-raising browser histories. Our hectic schedules, constant stress, rampant Internetting, and other side effects of living in the future, like incessant noise and light pollution, have played seven kinds of hell with our sleeping habits. People are getting less and less sleep, yet somehow manage to thrive.

This "somehow" is the weekend. No matter how little sleep we get during our hectic week, all we need to reset our sleep debt is to sleep in during those precious days off.

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And when has the advice of your unemployed drunk friends trying to lure you to the bar ever led you astray?

But Actually ...

Come next Monday, look around your office/classroom. Which ones dominate your field of vision: content, well-rested people who are ready to tackle the week's challenges, or baggy-eyed zombies who need a coffee IV to stay awake, no matter how much they slept during the weekend?

Of course it's the latter. Outside of maintaining a healthy sleep pattern, there is literally nothing you can do to erase your sleep debt. It's a lot like fiscal debt: gradually accumulated and a bastard to get rid of. Also, you probably have way more of it than you think. Most people only count "negative" loss of sleep into their sleep debt -- the nights when they had to work late or couldn't sleep because of the monster truck rally next door. However, every little hour counts, no matter how you spent it: Playing BioShock until the small hours adds to the debt pile just the same, no matter how much fun you had.

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"And that's why it's important to get the hang of sleep sex."

If you decide to go all-in and sleep all your debt away in two 14-hour snoring swoops, you're actually even worse off. As you may have noticed, an overly long snoozefest usually results in being far more tired than you were when you went to bed. This is because getting more sleep than you can handle on one lie-down leads to sleep drunkenness, an awesomely named condition where you hover in a drowsy state between sleep and wakefulness. We're guessing like 80 percent of you are in that state right now.

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