Test your medical knowledge with the following true/false questions:
1. sugar causes hyperactivity in children
2. suicides increase over the holidays
3. poinsettias are a poisonous plant
4. a large fraction of body heat is lost through the head
5. nocturnal feasting makes you fat
6. there are ways to prevent or cure a hangover
7. you should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
8. we only use 10% of our brains
9. hair and fingernails continue to grow after death
10. shaving hair causes it to grow back faster, darker or coarser
11. reading in dim light ruins your eyesight
12. eating turkey makes people especially drowsy
13. mobile phones cause considerable electromagnetic interference in hospitals
Done? Grading should be easy, since all 13 questions are almost certainly false. While some of these myths lack sufficient evidence to confirm them, others have been well-studied and proven wrong.
I answered a number of these questions as true, but hey -- I'm a radiologist -- what do I know about clinical medicine? My pediatrician spouse also missed a few, but fared better than I did.
These questions were compiled and researched by Rachel Vreeman and Aaron Carroll, pediatric researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Their results [1, 2] are freely available on the British Medical Journal site, and make for a fun read. I especially enjoyed reading about the questions I got wrong.
The authors conclude:
Physicians would do well to understand the evidence supporting their medical decision making. They should at least recognise when their practice is based on tradition, anecdote, or art. While belief in the described myths is unlikely to cause harm, recommending medical treatment for which there is little evidence certainly can. Speaking from a position of authority, as physicians do, requires constant evaluation of the validity of our knowledge.For extra points, try some of these questions out on your friends -- better yet, on your doctor.
1. BMJ 2007;335:1288-1289
2. BMJ 2008;337:a2769