Bad Medicine

At work today, I noticed that someone had put up a chart with medical ‘facts’ listed on it.  Some sounded plausible, others were not so plausible.  None of them had citations or any hint as where to look for confirmation.  Here’s the link to said chart:

I needed guidance on what to do with this chart.  Since I’m a supervisor in the department, I wanted to know if I would be justified to take down the chart.  My wife is a doctor currently in a surgery residency.  I figured she’d be the one to give me the lowdown on the ‘facts’.  Maybe she could guide me to the right decision.

Please read or at least glance at the chart before reading her email response.  I didn’t count on it being so hilarious.  I figured I should share:

Tell them your wife, who spends large amounts of time elbows-deep in guts and discussing the details of people’s pooping habits, says this is largely horseshit. Post this email, or discuss it with management and tell them you don’t approve of people posting this garbage because it could possibly be detrimental to someone’s health.

*    Don’t smoke-Experiment from experts proves that smoking a cigarette after meal is comparable to smoking 10 cigarettes (chances of cancer is higher).

Experiments from experts say you shouldn’t fucking smoke at all because smoking is fucking bad for you regardless of when you do it.

*    Don’t eat fruits immediately – Immediately eating fruits after meals will cause stomach to be bloated with air. Therefore take fruit 1-2 hr after meal or 1 hr before meal.

Horseshit. Fruit doesn’t magically produce air in your stomach by coming in contact with other foods, and if it did, you’d burp it up. Some people get the screaming shits from eating too much fruit, but that’s due to the laxative effect that massive loads of fructose causes. And like anything with a high fiber content, fruit gets digested by gut bacteria and can lead to some tooting about 8 hours later–but that’s in your intestine, not your stomach.

Also, people who say things like this by and large don’t know what a fucking fruit is anyway (it’s anything with seeds). Try asking them if this rule means they can’t eat spaghetti with marinara sauce or ketchup with their burger and fries (tomato’s a fruit!).

* Don’t drink tea – Because tea leaves contain a high content of acid. This substance will cause the Protein content in the food we consume to be hardened thus difficult to digest.

Your stomach has a pH of 1. Tea is a base compared to that. Also, protein is denatured by acid and further digested by enzymes that are only activated in the presence of acid, therefore more acid should lead to easier digestion of protein, not the other way around. Drinking green tea with my sushi does not cause me to shit out a block of undigested white tuna and octopus later on.

* Don’t loosen your belt – Loosening the belt after a meal will easily cause the intestine to be twisted &blocked.

What the flying fuck is this? Yes, whenever I see somebody with a bowel obstruction in the ER, the first thing I ask them is “Did you loosen your belt after eating?” Because it’s not like there’s any connective tissue in the abdomen holding things in place–it’s all just squiggling around in there willy-nilly, waiting to twist up like a balloon animal the second you try to drop trou! Thank god for the medical advancement that was the invention of the belt!

* Don’t bathe – Bathing will cause the increase of blood flow to the hands, legs & body thus the amount of blood around the stomach will therefore decrease. This will weaken the digestive system in our stomach.

Your parasympathetic nervous system is more than capable of overcoming the minor peripheral vasodilation that soaking in a warm bath causes, and will keep adequate blood flow to your intestines. You do not have enough volume capacity in your arms and legs to completely divert 5 liters of blood away from your core. Telling in this paragraph is that the author seems to think the word “stomach” can be used interchangeably with any other part of your GI tract.

* Don’t walk about – People always say that after a meal walk a hundred steps and you will live till 99. In actual fact this is not true. Walking will cause the digestive system to be unable to absorb the nutrition from the food we intake.

Horseshit! While attempting to run a marathon after eating Thanksgiving dinner might be a less than comfortable experience, and we tend to feel like having a nap because the blood flow is diverted from muscle to intestine, there is nothing about simply walking around that has any effect whatsoever on the intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients. In fact, we force (and sometimes I do mean force) our bowel surgery patients to get off their asses and walk beginning the day of surgery, because it actually promotes restoration of bowel motility.

* Don’t sleep immediately – The food we intake will not be able to digest properly. Thus will lead to gastric & infection in our intestine.

Millions of Spaniards would disagree with you, but they’re busy taking their post-lunch siesta. The only reason not to lie down after eating is that it can lead to gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn) in people who don’t have a competent GE junction.

As for the laundry list of fruits and veggies I don’t have time to dissect them in detail. But in general, the point is that people should eat more of them because they’ve got fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. Fiber helps you poop better, makes some modest progress on high cholesterol (statin drugs still blow it out of the water), and maybe helps people feel fuller longer so they don’t eat as many Twinkies. Antioxidants in the diet haven’t been proven to do jack shit about established cancer, Alzheimer’s, or immunological diseases, but maybe just maybe if you ate them religiously every day they could hypothetically decrease your lifetime risk of developing any of the above. Vitamins are vitamins–you need some, but not too much.

The one glaring error in that chart, though, is the claim that peanuts (or seeds or popcorn) aggravate diverticulosis/diverticulitis. This is a long-standing medical myth that has only recently been laid to rest, so I’m not shocked that this person hadn’t read the latest news in colorectal surgery. But the truth is, after meta-analysis of thousands of cases of ‘tics seen in the OR and on colonoscopy, there is no factual basis to the idea that seeds and nuts get stuck in ‘tics and piss them off. It just ain’t true.

Love you baby.

I took down the chart.

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