There’s a lot of fake news on the Internet concerning my health. Following are some health myths that many have told me that they believe to be true but really aren’t.

If I have a cough, take some cough syrup

The majority of over-the-counter cough medicines really don’t work. These colourful syrups typically contain doses of codeine and dextromethorphan that are too small to be effective. Only cough suppressants that contain older antihistamines seem to relieve coughs.

The MSG in Chinese food will give me a headache

Research has not been able to prove this. The misconception spawned from several poorly-done small studies in the 1960s that seemed to connect MSG with a variety of maladies that people experienced after eating at Chinese restaurants.

Eating nuts will make me fat

Nuts to that! Although as much as 75 per cent of a nut is fat, eating fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat. The bigger factor leading to weight gain is portion-size. Overeat any food and you’ll gain weight. Nuts are loaded with healthy fats that keep you full. They’re also a good source of protein and fibre.

Drinking too much coffee will cause cancer

In the 1980s a report circulated that coffee causes pancreatic cancer. The preliminary report was later debunked. More recently, health studies have swung in favour of drinking coffee, but not more than a couple of cups a day. Coffee consumption has been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, and even suicide.

Eggs will raise my cholesterol levels

Egg yolks are a major source of cholesterol but researchers say that saturated fat has more of an impact on cholesterol in your blood than eating foods that contain cholesterol. I’m not egging you on when I tell you that if your blood cholesterol level is normal, feel free to enjoy eggs in your diet every day.

Staring at a computer all day will make me blind

Focusing on a computer screen for a long time will certainly leave my eye muscles tired plus I’ll blink less. I just walk away from the computer screen every so often and focus on something twenty or more feet away— then blink briskly a couple of times.

My cell phone can kill me

Unlikely, but if you use it a lot, get an earpiece or put your caller on speaker so you can hold the phone away from your head. Don’t worry about getting cancer but if you drive or jay walk while talking or texting you’re more likely to have an accident or get ticketed by a cop.

Bottled water is better for me than tap water

Bottled water is no safer or purer than tap water — only more expensive. Bottled water is more likely to be contaminated than water from my faucet because it is less well-regulated. Tap water comes from municipal treatment plants that are carefully monitored.

A microwave oven will give me cancer

Microwaving doesn’t alter food in any way that could make you sick. All a microwave does is spur the water molecules in your food to move, and the friction of those molecules heats up your meal. The ovens do generate a tiny magnetic field, but there’s very little evidence that such a field poses a problem for humans, even if you don’t step back when the oven is on.

Chicken soup will cure my cold

This happens to be true and is not a bubbe meise (grandma’s tale). Based on medical research chicken soup acts as an anti-inflammatory agent for our nasal cells, giving our nose the relief it needs. It help keep nasal passages moist, thin out mucus, prevent dehydration, and sooth a sore throat, I also add matzo balls to the chicken soup and nosh it with sweet noodle kugel.


Bernard Mendelman is a columnist and not a health professional and therefore his advice should be taken with a grain of salt. Below are some examples of where he erred, sent in by Dr. Mitch Shulman.

  • Older anti histamines don't work reliably and safely on cold induced coughs and are associated with significant side effects including somnolence and a risk of urinary retention in older men.
  • Eggs were just recently put back on the careful list because of their cholesterol content and the recommendation is now to limit intake.
  • Cell phones have not been completed exonerated (the jury is out on this and so the recommendation is to text vs. call and use an ear piece).
  • Chicken soup won't cure a cold but has been shown to help with symptom re‎lief.

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