Old Wives’ Tales

Handling a toad will give you warts. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Chocolate causes acne. These old wives’ tales have been around for centuries but are they true? “Some are simply false, some are based on a seed of truth and yet others are right on the money,” says Thomas Craughwell, author of “Do Blue Bedsheets Bring Babies?” Here are 10 familiar tales and whether or not they’re the straight dope:

  1. A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s — False. A canine mouth contains 53 types of bacteria while a human mouth breeds only 37. So think twice before giving Spot a kiss on the mouth.
  2. Reading in dim light will ruin your eyes — False. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, you can’t wear out your eyes by using them in poor light.
  3. Toads give you warts — False. The skin glands of a toad secrete a substance that can give you hallucinations, but neither the slimy toxic gunk nor the toads cause warts.
  4. Crack your knuckles and you’ll get arthritis — False. While certain repetitive actions can lead to arthritis, knuckle cracking isn’t one of them.
  5. If you cross your eyes, they’ll stay that way — False. Stabismus, the disorder that causes misaligned eyes, only affects 4 percent of American children. Crossing the eyes does not cause the disease.
  6. Arthritis flares up in wet weather — False. People swim and shower without flare-ups and most people stay inside when it rains.
  7. Spicy foods create stomach ulcers — False. A bacterial infection or overuse of pain medications are the culprits.
  8. Walking under a ladder is bad luck — True. While a stroll under a ladder won’t endanger your soul, it poses potential dangers from falling buckets and tools.
  9. An apple a day keeps the doctor away — True. Apples are packed with antioxidants that fight the free radicals that cause cancer and other diseases.
  10. Chocolate causes acne — False. You can eat as much chocolate as you want and not worry about breakouts, which flare up when the pores of the skin become blocked with oil.

Do you use any of these on your children? I find myself telling my kids their face is going to “stick” that way if they keep crossing their eyes. – Justin

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