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TV doctor reveals the biggest health myths

A presenter on BBC’s latest health series Trust Me I’m A Doctor, Dr Michael Mosley has written up an extensive and enlightening list of common myths we often fail to question for The Times. From avoiding sun to coffee and living steadfast by habits that won’t change a thing, here are some of his revelations:

Myth 1: Coffee is the devil

Claims that coffee is bad for you come from retrospective case studies, like many things, Dr Mosley says. In fact, there is no increased mortality rate and there are actually benefits to drinking it, so long as you drink two to five cups a day. Any negative impact, such as insomnia, could be down to our genes. The doctor explains: “The speed with which caffeine is cleared from your body is dependent on levels of CYP1A2 and that is largely down to your genes. Which could explain why I can drink coffee in the evening without any problems, while a single cup in the afternoon keeps my wife twitching.”

Myth 2: Always avoid tanning

While it is a fact that ultraviolet light leads to ageing, damage and possible skin cancer, melanoma is actually more likely to afflict those who work indoors. Dr Mosley says there are also benefits from our skin being exposed to the sun, namely an intake of vitamin D, which helps ward off baddies such as schizophrenia, asthma, strokes and heart disease.

Myth 3: Do not be overweight

Shocking claims were made by scientists in America recently who concluded after looking into 97 studies involving almost 2.9 million that people who were deemed ‘overweight’ in the BMI stakes, that is between 25 and 30, were six per cent less likely to die than those who were in the ‘healthy’ category. Whatever is true, Dr Mosley says BMI measurements are particularly misleading if someone has lots of muscle or is tall, concluding ‘slim is good, being fit is better’.

Myth 4: Lots of water will help your body and mind

Not only do we get much of the water we need through food, tea and coffee also count in the magic two litre of fluids figure we need a day. Dr Mosley actually goes so far to say: “The boring truth is: just drink when you’re thirsty and you’ll be fine.”

Myth 5: Mozart can make you clever

It is little known that after a study found listening to Mozart made people able to solve puzzles better, the results only lasted for 15 minutes. Then other research revealed all music had the same effect. Dr Mosley expels the myth, saying in the short term music can make us more alert. The end.


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