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Does mom really know best? – Ogden Clinic provided source, Standard-Examiner Health & Wellness 6/27/2015

OGDEN - Did your mother ever tell you not to go outside with a wet head or you’d catch a cold?

Did she tell you not to sit too close to the TV or you’d go blind?

What about telling you to always wear sunscreen or to close the door when you come in the house so mosquitoes won’t come in, bite you and make you sick?

We asked some local medical experts to tell us what advice we should listen to and what advice we should … well, sorry, mom. No disrespect, but some of that advice is now old school.

Ogden Clinic family practice physician assistant Mike Browne said when it comes to catching a cold, it simply is not caused by going outside with a wet head. In reality, colds are caused by viruses. Wet hair itself does not cause colds; rather, you breathe the virus through your nose or mouth, and if your immune system doesn’t fight off the cold, you get sick.

“There was a study done on college students who had their noses swabbed once a week. Interestingly, one in five students tested positive for a common cold virus, but less than one-fourth of those who tested positive had cold symptoms,” Browne said. “The students came down with colds more often during finals week and when major projects were due. The students got less sleep during those times, and their immune systems were unable to clear viruses as easily.”

In another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Tanner Clinic physician assistant Lindsay Florek said, scientists exposed two groups of otherwise healthy people to the common cold virus. One group was exposed to the virus in a chilly 41 degrees Farhenheit room; the other group, in a balmy 86 degrees room.The result? Both groups caught colds at about the same rate.

“The key takeaway here is that colds are caused by viruses which can survive in a broad spectrum of temperatures.Your best bet to avoid the common cold is to focus on practicing good hygiene rather than blow drying that hair, if you only have the time and energy for one or the other,” she said.

What about sitting close to the TV? Are we going to lose our sight?

No, said Browne. Kids who are born with poor vision will sit too close to a TV or computer screen, but sitting close does not worsen their vision. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, get your child’s vision checked if he or she can’t see the screen from a reasonable distance.

Florek said before the 1960s, television radiation emission levels were unregulated. Certain television sets back then emitted enough radiation that repeated and extended exposure could have heightened the risk of eye problems in some people. While CRT televisions which are still available today do emit very low energy X-rays, the levels are so low that there is no concern of risk to our health. Newer televisions that operate with plasma, LCD, and LED technologies do not produce X-rays at all.

Drink your milk , mom said. It’s good for your bones. Florek said this is true. However, the topic has been debated for years. Both sides agree that calcium promotes bone development. Those in the pro-dairy camp claim that milk is the perfect vehicle to transport calcium to bones. Detractors disagree, saying that proteins found in dairy products may actually inhibit calcium from forming optimal bone stores, and therefore argue that calcium from plants combined with regular exercise are a better choice for healthy bones.

“The reality is that when we consume and process dairy, we are left with a net surplus of calcium in the body,” Florek said. “Other sources of calcium out there may be more efficient when it comes to promoting bone density, but dairy, as part of a balanced diet, positively impacts bone health.”

Browne said that according to a Harvard study, drinking milk to strengthen your bones is false. The study found that extra dairy products don’t reduce your risk of osteoporosis, or brittle bones. Instead, they can raise your risk of heart disease due to fat content and may increase risk of prostate cancer.

“Based on current evidence, I recommend regular weight-bearing exercise, such as walking or jogging, to prevent osteoporosis,” Browne said. “Diet-wise, most adults should get 1,000 milligrams calcium and 800 international units of vitamin D, which helps in calcium absorption per day.”

Eat those carrots , mom said. They’re good for your vision — and they’ll make your hair curly.

“I would argue that your genes make your hair curly, not carrots.” Browne said. “And while the beta-carotene inside carrots is important for eye health, the carrots will not improve your vision. According to, this is a myth started by the British Royal Air Force during World War II. Great Britain used a new radar system to detect and shoot down record numbers of German bombers, but to cover up the technology, the air force claimed the pilots were eating carrots to improve their night vision.”

Florek said that doesn’t mean this orange veggie can’t be a powerful contributor to your natural beauty. In high enough amounts, carrots and other beta-carotene-rich fruits and vegetables can actually give your skin a healthy orange glow.

“Think perfect tan without the sun damage orange, not oompa loompa orange. Who doesn’t want that?” she said. “Beta-carotene is the chemical that gives vegetables their colorful hues. It can be found in carrots, leafy greens, orange squashes, yellow and green peppers. In the body, beta-carotene promotes the synthesization of vitamin A, which helps the eye to capture light and allows you to see. While beta-carotene won’t correct poor vision, it is important for vision health.”

How many times did your mother tell you not to make faces – your face will stay that way? Is it true?

Browne said face muscles can contract for just a short time. However, when you get older your wrinkles will depend on the facial movements you have made over and over, every day.

“For the best looking wrinkles, I recommend smiling,” he said.

Florek said while this is a great tool for mothers to discourage the old cross-eyed puffer face at Sunday dinner, facial expressions will not become permanent.

“There is however some truth in the overall idea. Making certain faces repeatedly can cause expression lines and wrinkles by training the muscles to stay in an unnatural resting position. But, hey, that’s what Botox is for, right?”she said.

Don’t do that. You’ll poke your eye out . Yikes.

If “poke your eye out” means penetrating the eye and releasing the gel from the inside, yes, any sharp object can do this, Browne said. This type of injury many times causes blindness. Always be careful with sharp objects or projectiles around the eyes.

“But if ‘poke your eye out’ refers to popping the eye out of its socket, I am not aware of this happening outside of movies,” he said.

What if I go swimming right after I eat? Am I going to drown like mom said I would?

Swimming after eating and drinking is safe, unless your drinks contained alcohol, Florek said. When we eat, blood flow to our gut increases to help with digestion. To compensate for this phenomenon the body reduces flow to our extremities which can lead to cramping. Although swimming while the body attempts to digest newly consumed food may not be ideal, there aren’t any documented cases of anyone drowning as a result of swimming too soon after eating.

“A majority of drownings are, however, associated with alcohol. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), among adolescents and adults, alcohol use is involved in up to 70 percent of deaths associated with water recreation,” she said.

Don’t swallow your gum . It won’t digest for several years.

“While it’s true that gum won’t digest, the notion that it stays in your stomach for years is false,” Browne said. “According to an online posting by Dr. Michael F. Picco, a gastroenterologist for Mayo Clinic, gum passes through your intestines and comes out in the stool looking almost identical to when it went in your mouth. But don’t let kids swallow excessive amounts of gum. This has occasionally led to intestinal blockage.”

Eating chocolate and fried foods will cause acne, mom said.

Acne is caused by bacteria called acne vulgaris, which get trapped under oil, dirt and dead skin in pores and hair follicles. Although certain foods have been tied to acne — dairy and high glycemic foods, for example — no study has shown a direct link between chocolate and acne, Florek said.

“Fried foods are actually not linked to acne, which is caused by pores getting plugged by oil and dead skin cells. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the four biggest factors that cause acne are genetics, hormones, menstruation and emotional stress,” Florek said. “Foods do not cause acne, but sugar can worsen it. So, yes, chocolate can worsen pre-existing acne.”

Don’t crack your knuckles . You’ll get arthritis.

So far studies have proven this to be false, Browne said. People who crack their knuckles have the same rates of arthritis as people who don’t crack their knuckles. When you crack a knuckle, you cause a bubble to form inside the joint; this bubble is then displaced by joint fluid rushing into the joint. The cracking sounds horrible, but does not damage the cartilage or put you at higher risk for arthritis.

So mom was right about some things and wrong about others, but she always meant well. Some other things she was definitely right about? Wear sunscreen every day, don’t shower during a lightning storm, and don’t stay up too late. All of these things have a definite impact on our health and well-being. Thanks, mom.