Just because something is published in a science journal or reported on the news doesn’t mean it’s true. You need to look at how a study is designed, as well as decide if it seems to make sense. There’s a lot of ways statistics can be used to make information seem true, when in fact it may not be.

In a scientific study that claims separation anxiety from your iPhone can actually make you dumber. That’s right — test subjects got so anxious when separated from their iPhones their heart rate and blood pressure went up, and their ability to solve puzzles went down. Did this actually make them less smart? Were they forgetting dates and ways to add? No way. Maybe they briefly had trouble solving a complicated puzzle, but I don’t think it really makes us stupid, despite what the headline might say.

Here’s some other health advice that you should think twice about

Hugs can cure the common cold.
With the flu rampant and cold symptoms abounding, it would be great it we could find a quick and easy way to either treat or prevent the cold. Well, a recent Carnegie Mellon study published just a month ago suggests that hugs can help protect against stress and thereby reduce infection. It even was supported by the federal government — so it must be true, right?!

Smelling farts can prevent cancer.
I’m not making this crap up, no pun intended! A recent press release from scientists at the University of Exeter went viral last year, prompting calls to cancer clinics. It was even published in a well-respected news magazine.

Baby urine can treat acne and treat skin rashes.
Having worked at Discovery Channel, I’ve been asked more than once (usually by viewers of “Man vs. Wild”), whether it’s safe to drink your own urine. The short answer is it’s fine because urine is sterile, but why do it unless you are truly stranded for more than a day with no source of clean water around?!

Chocolate can protect you from heart disease caused by air pollution.
Technically the study found it was a diet that included fruit and vegetables, wine as well as chocolate. Researchers found that elderly men were less likely to experience changes in heart function during heavy smog days if they ate foods loaded with antioxidants. Researchers seemed to be particularly excited about this finding since other than avoiding smog such as moving where we live, we don’t have a way to protect ourselves from it.

If you’re a woman with cats, you are more likely to commit suicide.
Now before you start writing a nasty email, there is science behind this fact. A common parasite, known as Toxoplasma gondii, is carried by cats. It is transmitted in their feces, so that’s why it is found in cat litter. We know that pregnant woman need to be careful around cat litter, but it also turns out that women who become infected with the parasite may be more likely to develop mental health problems, including schizophrenia. It’s all due to the parasite infecting the brain. The good news is that one can be tested for the parasite. At least in this study, researchers did promise to do additional studies.

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Photo by Claus Rebler

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