wive's talesWe’ve all heard old wives’ tales at some point or another. Whether it was from your mom, your grandmother, your crazy aunt, or someone else, we’ve all heard at least one story. Maybe you’ve even said a few yourself.

These days, we generally take them with a grain of salt. Whether it’s grandma telling you that you’ll get brain cancer from watching your food heat up in the microwave, or your mom’s insistence that you should wait an hour after eating before you hop in the pool, these ideas are everywhere in our culture. Let’s look at 10 that have been passed down through the years and examine their validity.

  1. Cats Can Steal the Air from a Baby’s Mouth

wive's talesIt seems like nonsense because it is. Regardless, people once believed this. Of course, that was during an age in which cats were associated with witchcraft and evil spirits. The fact that a cat achieving this is absolutely impossible was overlooked, but this superstition did create precautions involving pets around small children which is a good thing.

Verdict: Fiction

  1. Cracking Your Knuckles Causes Arthritis

cracking knucklesStudies show that regular knuckle crackers experience a weakened grip and greater hand swelling that can limit dexterity, but there is no notable connection to arthritis. Comparisons of regular knuckle crackers and those who never do it have revealed no difference between the two when it came incidences of osteoarthritis. That said, it’s kind of a gross habit and messes up your hands in other ways, so your mom had good intentions when she told you not to do this.

Verdict: Fiction

  1. An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

apple a dayYou should eat lots of apples, then go see your doctor. Yes, apples are loaded with vitamin C, which is good for your blood vessels and aids in the development of muscles, cartilage and collagen in your bones. They’re also packed with antioxidants that can help you ward off disease if consumed regularly. But no matter how many apples you eat, their health benefits can’t cancel out a lack of exercise or excessive smoking, drinking or the consumption of foods that aren’t so healthy. Therefore, it’s probably not a good idea to lose your doctor’s number just yet.

Verdict: Fiction

  1. Spicy Foods Cause Ulcers

Spicy-FoodYou’ve probably heard this, and following a hot sauce-induced trip to the bathroom thought it might hold up, but modern research shows that spicy foods do not correlate to ulcers in any way. In fact, evidence suggests that hot peppers containing capsaicin actually help heal ulcers by stimulating blood flow to the wound.

Verdict: Fiction

  1. Eating Carrots is Good for Your Eyesight

bad eyesightThe level of beta-carotene in carrots is notable as it is a pre-cursor to vitamin A, which helps slow macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of vision problems. It also helps people maintain healthy corneas, and the high concentration of lutein helps protect the retina. While they won’t make eyesight better, carrots actually do help us maintain it.

Verdict: Fact


  1. Too Much TV is Bad for Your Eyes

too much tvBelieve it or not, watching television on modern screens has little effect on your eyes as long as you don’t go overboard. This idea came from the 1960s, when television sets were found to emit X-rays, and parents were advised to keep their kids at a distance from the screen and limit their overall exposure. However, modern screens do not emit these rays. That doesn’t necessarily mean watching TV is harmless now, however. Research shows that kids who watch more than 10 hours of TV per week are more likely to be aggressive, slower to learn in school and, unsurprisingly, overweight. So while it doesn’t hurt your eyes, it’s never a bad idea to shy away from too much time in front of the tube for the sake of your mental and physical health.

Verdict: Fiction

  1. Hangovers Can Be Cured with More Alcohol

too much alcoholThe corresponding expression for this notion, “hair of the dog that bit you,” stems from an equally ridiculous wives’ tale that you could recover from a dog bite by rubbing some of the animal’s hair in your wound. The misguided nature of the decision to continue drinking can only lead to more drunkenness and even more suffering down the road. In the end, it’s best to bite the bullet and work your way through the hangover.

Verdict: Fiction

  1. Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

breakfast is importantPractically everyone around the world has likely heard this at some point, be it from their parents, a favorite TV show or an advertisement. As it turns out, there is actually some evidence to support the idea. In men, studies show that eating breakfast lowers the risk of coronary heart disease. Meanwhile, skipping breakfast interferes with cognition and learning capabilities in children. Lifestyle also plays a key factor in the importance of the day’s first meal, but one thing science shows us is that the meal which “breaks your overnight fast” (get it? Breakfast) is an important one for your health.

Verdict: Fact

  1. Chicken Soup is Good for Curing Sickness

chicken soupReally, what’s the difference between chicken soup and any other soup, right? Wrong. As it turns out, standard chicken soups have anti-inflammatory capabilities. Inflammation is a response to infection that if left untreated can lead to bronchitis and sinus infection. Chicken breasts contain two dipeptides: carnosine and its derivative anserine, both of which contribute to the treatment and prevention of cold and the flu.

Verdict: Fact

  1. Gum Stays in Your System for Years if Swallowed

swallow gumYou didn’t believe it when you were a kid and now science is giving you the fuel to throw this one back in your elementary school teacher’s face. Gastroenterologists have conducted research that proves, while gum is not something you can digest, there is a very slim chance it could stay in your body for more than a week, not the seven years your friends told you. So kids, you can stop plastering it all over the bottom of your desk and just swallow your gum when you’re done with it, you’ll be fine.

Verdict: Fiction

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