10 Things You Thought Were Bad For You (That Actually Aren’t)

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Today, you will see unending negative headlines on the internet, and it can sometimes feel like nothing at all is safe. Not only are the regular dangers of the world amplified, but the media will tell you that all kinds of banal things are actually lurking in wait to kill you, or at least rob you of a noticeable amount of your overall lifespan. However, some of this hysteria really is just that, and many of the things that you are told are dangerous really aren’t anything at all to be worried about. 

10. You Shouldn’t Boil Water Twice (Is Just an Old Wives’ Tale)

This one is more popular in the United Kingdom, due to the popularity there of boiling water in kettles for making hot tea. This myth contends that if you boil water twice or more, that same water gets the toxins or impurities in it “concentrated” to a dangerous point, and could even lead to cancer. There are actually quite a few people who believe this, and more sources than not online seem to push this silliness, but there really isn’t anything to it. 

If there is something in the water that cannot be boiled out, reboiling the water will make a slightly lower amount of water, and thus the impurities will technically be more concentrated, but you cannot create more “toxins” or make them more powerful. In other words, the number of impurities that cannot be removed by boiling that were in the water when you first boiled it will be the same amount that were there, in the same strength, after the second time you boil it. Not only that, but to even get this concentration effect (which again, doesn’t increase the actual overall amount of impurities), you would have to boil your water down quite a bit, and most people take it off slightly after it just starts to boil, which wouldn’t even give it time to reduce on any significant or even noticeable level. 

9. Leaving The Butter Out Is Controversial, But Mostly Safe According To Experts

The argument about leaving out the butter has been around for a long time, and many people fall very extremely on one side or another. Some people think it is perfectly safe to leave the butter out for hours or days. Others agree, but insist it must be covered. Still others say it is only safe to keep it covered safely in the refrigerator. Those who fall on the latter side of the argument usually use public food safety rules (sometimes inaccurately) to back them up, insisting that if the health department demands it be kept in the fridge, then it really isn’t safe to be left out. 

However, according to health experts, you actually can leave the butter out quite safely for up to 10 days, in certain conditions. This is, of course, assuming a home that is managing to keep a somewhat moderate temperature; in other words, this may not apply entirely if you are in the middle of a hot summer and don’t have air conditioning. Also, if it is uncovered, it can start to pick up contaminants, and go rancid, which can make it sometimes last for only hours or a couple days instead of up to 10. However, covered and with the right temperature conditions, the reason it can last so long is because it is mostly fat (usually over 80%), and only about 20% or less water. This massive fat content, which surrounds the water molecules and protects them, shields it greatly from contaminants. 

8. People Think Watching TV In The Dark, Or Reading In A Dark Room, Are Harmful 

Many people are convinced that watching TV in a dark room, or reading with a dim light, is bad for your eyes to the point that it will, over time, degrade your vision in a noticeable way. This has been told by many parents over the years, some perhaps to get their kids to go to bed and stop reading or using their screens in the dark, but sometimes out of simple ignorance. 

Researchers who studied these myths have found them to be just that: myths. When a control group was tested against those who watched TV in the dark, the conclusion was that the only real difference amounted to those who watched TV in the dark being slightly slower at their tasks, a little less focused, and slightly sleepier. Of course, this can easily be attributed to their brain thinking they should feel sleepy because they spent a bunch of time in the dark. As for reading in the dark, studies have shown you can get eye strain, which can lead to headaches, but not permanent eye damage. 

7. Swallowing Gum Isn’t A Super Great Habit, But It Is Rarely Ever Harmful 

One of the silliest myths, which has been around for ages, is that when it comes to chewing gum, if you swallow it, it will get stuck in your digestive system and take seven years (in some versions longer) to actually pass through. Due to the fact that chewing gum isn’t really food, this myth caught on easily, and many concerned parents enthusiastically told it to their children, possibly in the hopes they would want to have less chewing gum in general, as it is a mostly messy and pointless product. 

Regardless, the myth is complete bunk. Like most things our body cannot properly digest, it simply passes through us, and it usually does so in days, at most. Now, this does not mean there is no danger at all, and that no one has ever had complications from swallowing too much chewing gum, but it is quite rare. If you swallow an incredible amount over a short period of time, you could potentially get an intestinal blockage, but you would really have to be chewing and swallowing a lot of gum on a very regular and constant basis. 

6. Artificial Sweeteners Cause Cancer (According To Popular Opinion) 

This one is very popular, and touted lovingly by sugar addicts everywhere, who will gleefully point out that while sugar may be unhealthy, at least it isn’t fully of weird, cancer causing properties that were designed in a lab, like those evil artificial sweeteners. Even many who use artificial sweeteners at least partially believe in this myth, and try to use the ones that are “least cancer causing” or simply accept it as a necessary evil and point out that sugar is unhealthy in other ways and highly addictive. 

However, the truth is there is zero evidence that any of the popular artificial sweeteners you see on the market are cancer causing, or cancer contributing, in any way. That doesn’t mean, however, that they are particularly effective. According to a lot of studies, they don’t do too well at satisfying our sugar cravings, which sometimes leads us to eat more calories, or binge on other unhealthy things, in an effort to satisfy those cravings. However, that does not make them at all, in any way, directly bad for you. 


5. There Is A Common Belief Among Many That Cracking Knuckles Leads To Arthritis 

Many kids loved to crack their knuckles for fun, usually as a way to look or feel tough. At the same time, kids growing up were often listening to two very different myths about the practice, both of which — as you might imagine — are complete bunk. The first one states that if you crack your knuckles, you are increasing your risk of joint diseases like arthritis. In other words, it is really, really bad for you. On the other hand, many kids were also under the impression that if you cracked your knuckles a lot, you could make them get bigger over time, which is a fun fantasy. 

Now, sadly for those who wished they could be like the Echidna Knuckles from the Sonic series, cracking your knuckles will not make them any bigger. What it also won’t do, as you probably already guessed, is give you arthritis. It can, however, be habit forming, and it can be annoying and disruptive to the people around you if done too much in the wrong setting, where it really isn’t appropriate. Of course, just like anything, a bad habit, once learned, can still be broken.  

4. Researchers Have Been Unable To Make A Cell Phone Blow Up A Gas Pump 

We have been told certain things about safety that we take for granted, like don’t spark up a cigarette or have an open flame near a gas pump (this is true, do NOT do this). But we have also been told, with the advent of the cell phone, that we should not risk having the cell phone out near the pump, or there could be an explosion. However, this one is quite tricky, because some scientists still theoretically believe it could happen. For that reason, don’t be surprised if gas stations tell you to get off your cell phone, and even go so far as shutting off your pump if you don’t listen.

Still, groups like the MythBusters have tried and failed to get it to happen, and they often have a bigger budget than many legitimate research projects — none of which have been able to get it to happen either. The theory is that the cell phone could cause a spark that could ignite vapors in the air from the gas, and create an explosion. The theory seems sound, and again, don’t be surprised if gas stations continue to enforce this out of an abundance of caution, but scientists have been unable to make it actually happen in a controlled scenario. 

3. Carbohydrates Are Thought By Many To Be Universally Bad For You 

Many diets tell you to cut out carbohydrates, and many people are under the impression that all carbs are bad, or mostly evil, in some form or another. However, Carbohydrates are one of three important macronutrients: fat, protein, and carbs. We need all of these food groups for a healthy diet. Carbohydrates are legumes, fruits and vegetables as well, and not just grains, as many people think. The main forms of carbohydrates are basic sugars from fruits, which quickly break down as glucose; starches, which get broken down slower into glucose; and fiber, which we cannot digest, but helps keep our system moving and our gut healthy. 

We only need a small amount of protein at once, and carbohydrates actually give us a lot of energy by slowly converting into sugar. The reason that many people think that carbohydrates are unhealthy today, and trying to throw out an entire macronutrient, is because so many carbohydrates today are processed, and not very good for you. Processed carbohydrates, like white bread, cause a quick spike and then drop in glucose, while whole carbohydrates like whole grain (not to be confused with multi-grain, or bread with bits in it) cause it to transform into glucose much more slowly and avoid those blood sugar spikes. On top of this, many processed carbohydrates simply do not have as many nutrients packed in, even after being bleached and then enriched afterwards. 

2. Many Believe Swimming 30 Minutes After Eating Will Cause You To Cramp And Drown

This one has been passed around for a very long time, and many people have treated it as actual gospel. Countless children have stories of eating, and then literally being timed, with an actual effort to make sure that at least 30 exact minutes had passed before they were allowed into the pool. Some were even told to start out in the shallow end, even after the 30 minutes, to avoid the risk of having a cramp and drowning and dying in the pool. Many people are now doing the same thing to their kids, and still treat this one as scientific truth. 

However, the actual fact is that it is nothing more than an old wives’ tale. Now that the internet has reached the debunking era, scientists everywhere are quick to point out that this is a bunch of hooey. There is no reason, unless you seriously overate, that swimming is likely to give you any kind of serious stomach cramp or pain. However, more to the point, the idea that getting a stomach cramp would cause you to drown sounds like something written by someone who doesn’t know how to swim. Any competent swimmer can float, or tread water, in multiple different ways, with little effort. Unless you are in really rough waters, and a really… rough swimmer… the chance of a stomach cramp — even if you did get one — putting you in any mortal danger is so slim as to be laughable. 

1. Is It Really Worse To Sit At Your Desk, Or To Stand At Your Desk? 

For a while, as the tech sector started to boom in the digital age, new science was coming out and offices were trying all kinds of new office plans. One of the interesting ideas coming out suggested that perhaps standing at the desk would be better for our posture overall, and so some offices tried out standing desks. Some offices have also tried strange hybrid desks, and others have even put kiddy slides in their offices, or other strange affectations in order to both bolster spirit and perhaps inspire a bit more (and different) movement to improve our overall posture and health. (But mostly just for fun when it comes to the slides.)

Regardless, this has led to a constant argument about whether it is better for our posture to sit at our desks, or to stand at them, or both. And, as you might have imagined, if you are a fan of moderation, the answer is… some of both. After we have had enough time to take a look at a lot of offices that have tried various standing approaches, and compare them to others, it looks like combinations of movement, especially if you can get in a walk or something over lunch, are really the best thing overall. Humans are simply built for movement, so shifting position over the course of the work day, and even getting a walk or two if time allows for it, are really the best thing overall. We are not meant to be sedentary creatures. We have not evolved to that point yet.


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