OREGON — You might assume that standard medical advice was supported by mounds of scientific research. But researchers recently discovered that nearly 400 routine practices were flatly contradicted by studies published in leading journals.
“You come away with a sense of humility,” said Dr Vinay Prasad of Oregon Health and Science University, who conceived of the study. “Very smart and well-intentioned people came to practice these things for many, many years. But they were wrong.”
Some of those ideas have been firmly dislodged, but not all. Now Dr Prasad and his colleagues are trying to learn how widespread are discredited practices and ideas.
Here are 10 findings that contradict what were once widely held theories.
- Peanut allergies occur whether or not a child is exposed to peanuts before age 3.
- Fish oil does not reduce the risk of heart disease.
But in a trial involving 12,500 people at risk for heart trouble, daily omega-3 supplements did not protect against heart disease.
[Need to check the balance or ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3. The ratio should be 1:1. but Western diets tend to result in a ratio of over 15 to 1. So the Omega 3 supplements are suppose to balance the ratio, but that is a lot of omega 6 it needs to balance against. See video below, at about 11:32. I'm not saying that this is the reason for this "myth" or that this is incorrectly listed as a "myth". I'm just sharing what I have learned, and my key takeaway is, don't buy supplements. The claims are often spurious or unsupported by science, or very poor science. Caveat Emptor.]
- A lifelike doll carried around by teenage girls will not deter pregnancies.
- Ginkgo biloba does not protect against memory loss and dementia.
- To treat emergency room patients in acute pain, a single dose of oral opioids is no better than drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen.
- Testosterone treatment does not help older men retain their memory.
But a rigorous clinical trial showed that testosterone was no better than a sugar pill in helping older men avoid memory loss.
- To protect against asthma attacks, it won’t help to keep your house free of dust mites, mice and cockroaches.
- Step counters and calorie trackers do not help you lose weight.
- Torn knee meniscus? Try physical therapy first, surgery later.
But when patients with a torn meniscus and moderate arthritis were randomized to six months of physical therapy or surgery, both groups improved, and to the same extent.
- If a pregnant woman’s water breaks prematurely, the baby does not have to be delivered immediately.
But a clinical trial found that if obstetricians carefully monitor the fetus while waiting for labour to begin naturally, the fetus is at no greater risk for infection. And newborns left to gestate were healthier, with less respiratory distress and a lower risk of death, than those who were delivered immediately after a break.
THE NEW YORK TIMES