Old wives’ tales are a type of urban legend. They were usually passed down by older women to the next generation and generally consist of folklore, unverified claims and superstition with exaggerated or untrue details. Today, these tales are most common among kids, usually passing the tales around in school or while they socialize.
At some point in your life, you’ve likely heard an old wives’ tale listed below. Perhaps it was a grandparent, your uncle, mother or wife who imparted the knowledge. While their intentions were good, one thing is certain – the claims below are 100% bogus.
Today we list the top 10 most common inaccurate old wives’ tales.
Number 10: Chocolate Causes Acne
The real cause of acne is a buildup of dead skin cells within the skin’s pores, excess of oil on the skin, and a buildup of bacteria. None of these factors are triggered by, or related to, the kinds of foods a person eats.
It is also worth noting that consumption of greasy foods does not cause your skin to produce more oil. Greasy foods, while not particularly healthy, won’t cause oily skin and/or produce pimples. The biggest factor in skin oil production is hormonal changes within a person’s body.
Number 9: Carrots Improve your Vision
While carrots are a good source of vitamin A, carrots do not improve vision. The myth largely began as allied propaganda during WW2 when deliberate rumors were spread that British pilots had excellent night vision thanks to eating carrots. A myth which was started on purpose to stop the Nazis from discovering that the British were using a new invention – radar.
Carrots contain vitamin A which is good for a person’s eyes, eating a bunch of them will do nothing to improve your vision or night-vision.
Number 8: Catching a Cold
While flu and colds are more prevalent during the winter months, it’s a complete myth that it has something to do with actual temperature or being out in the cold.
According to the American Lung Association®, infections persist because it’s the time of year when viruses usually spread across the country. This is thanks to more people staying indoors and are in closer contact with each other and their germs/viruses.
Number 7: Shaving Causes Hair To Grow In Thicker
A study published in the journal Anatomical Record found that shaving has no effect on hair’s growth rate, color, or texture. Another study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found “no significant differences in total weight of hair produced in a measured area, or rate of growth of individual hairs which could be ascribed to shaving”. So feel free to shave when needed.
Number 6: Cracking Knuckles Leads To Arthritis
There is no scientific evidence, study or proof that cracking your knuckles leads to arthritis – there are however, suggestions that it can lead to other issues with your knuckles later in life.
We recently wrote an entire article about this very topic. You can read it here.
Number 5: Feed a Fever Starve a Cold?
It is believed that the tale originated from a lack of understanding of the disease process. At the time, people believed there were two kinds of illnesses – those caused by low temp (chills and colds) and those caused by high temperatures (fevers). If you had a fever, you didn’t want your body to overheat, so you cut off the source of fuel (food). If you had a chill or were cold, you wanted to stoke the interior fires, so you ate.
Number 4: TV Will Harm Eyesight
This myth persists because back in the 60s, GE introduced new color TV sets that emitted incredibly high amounts of radiation — some as much as 100,000x more than federal health officials considered safe.
General electric quickly recalled and fixed the faulty TV sets, but the urban legend lingers on to this day. The same is also true for reading in dim light or in darkness – neither harms eyesight.
Number 3: Spicy Food Causes Ulcers
In the 50s and 60s, doctors thought that spicy food caused ulcers and as a result put people on bland diets. However, in the early 80s, researchers discovered that spicy food wasn’t causing ulcers, though they can still irritate existing ones.
That burning sensation in your stomach could be an ulcer, but it wasn’t caused by your consumption of Indian food. It’s also possible that a person could simply be allergic or overly sensitive to something in the curry, or that you have acid reflux.
Number 2: Don’t Eat Before Swimming
It’s actually probably better to eat before you swim because eating supplies us with energy.
Many professional swimmers are lean and don’t have a lot of body fat to burn away, which means that they need to stay fueled for a swim. They do this by eating a short time before a swim. The myth probably began by people overeating and feeling the effects of overeating.
Number 1: Toads Can Cause Warts
In the old days, no one knew about viruses. Thanks to ignorance, folk beliefs popped up to explain the sudden appearance of warts on healthy individuals. A child who developed a wart on his or her hands was said to have handled a toad or was urinated on by a toad. It was believed that a toad could pass its bumps off to a person. It was also claimed that a person could get warts by washing their hands in water that had been used to boil eggs.