Health Checkup

With the glut of information on TV and the Web, it can be difficult to tell fact from fiction. How well does your medical knowledge stack up?

The world of modern medicine is constantly changing with new studies published seemingly every day, and anyone with a computer can say they’re a health expert with a few keystrokes. Sometimes what we’ve known for years — or think we’ve known — isn’t the truth. Check your health IQ and see if you can spot the medical myths — or if you need a dose of reality. Give yourself 5 points for each correct answer and add up for your diagnosis.

0-5 points: Hazard to your health  //  10-15 points: You have a pulse  //  20-25 points: Maverick of modern medicine

1. True or False: Popping your knuckles leads to arthritis.

False. (Told you, Mom!) According to Dr. Rachel Rohde, board certified orthopedic surgeon at the Michigan Orthopaedic Institute, and various longitudinal studies, there is not a strong link between knuckle cracking or popping and arthritis. Although there have been concerns about the long-term effects of knuckle popping, Rohde references a recent study done on “habitual knuckle crackers” in which “they didn’t find any increased incidence of osteoarthritis in people that have been cracking their knuckles for decades.”   


2. Vitamin C does not prevent which of the following: 

A. Cardiovascular disease 

B. The common cold 

C. Prenatal health problems

B: The common cold. At the first sign of the sniffles, many of us load up on orange juice and vitamin C supplements, but is it really doing anything?According to Dr. Kendrin Sonneville, assistant professor of environmental health and nutritional sciences at the University of Michigan, not so much. Studies have shown those who took vitamin C regularly saw no difference in the likelihood of catching a cold, however, “It does seem that those people have a shorter duration, so their symptoms don’t last quite as long then the people who aren’t taking vitamin C,” she says. So stop tossing away your money on vitamin C packed preventives, and start practicing better long-term nutritional practices to avoid those sniffles and prevent other health concerns.


3. True or False: We only use around 10 percent of our brain’s capacity.

False. According to Dr. Vaibhav Diwadkar, co-director of the Brain Imaging Research Division of the Department of Psychiatry and BehavioralNeurosciences at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, there isn’t a clear way to quantify just how much of our brain we’re using. Due to the unlimited number of variables in any day-to-day situation, we are often using multiple parts of our brain at one time. Diwadkar says the origins of this myth are “maybe in the fact that there is an enormous amount of plasticity in the brain,” referencing the brain’s ability to compensate for abilities lost during neurological trauma.


4. Which of the following should you limit to lose weight? 

A. Complex carbohydrates 

B. Monosodium glutamate 

C. Saturated fats

C. Saturated fats. Although you may think cutting carbs is the easiest way to shed some pounds, they’re actually a valuable asset in losing weight. According to Sonneville, carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy. Complex, nutrient-rich carbs such as whole grains and fresh fruits will keep you fuller longer and provide lasting energy, aiding weight loss. Carbs get their bad reps from their nutrient-poor counterparts, highly processed refined carbohydrates, e.g. french fries, pastries, and soda.


5. True or False: Cellphones cause cancer.

False. Although studies have shown an increase in the number of individuals who use cellphones developing cancer, according to Dr. Sandeep Mittal, co-leader of the Neuro-Oncology team at the Karmanos Cancer Institute, this is likely due to advancements in cancer screening, detecting cancerous cells earlier than ever before. In studies where people were exposed to low-frequency radiation, such as radiation emitted from cellphones, results have shown “there may be an increased incidence of transformation of cells, into either pre-cancerous or have molecular changes that make them less healthy,” says Mittal, adding after thorough analyses,  “there is no clear-cut link between cellphone usage and development of brain tumors.”