Busting some common medical myths

By Dr. Kevin Stone

In my 25 years of practicing as an orthopaedic surgeon, working with athletes and people with arthritis, I have learned that much of what we think we know turns out to be only part of the truth. For that reason, research that challenges our common knowledge makes the art and science of medicine both intellectually stimulating and — for me — thrilling. Here are a few commonly held beliefs, often prescribed by some doctors, which I believe may do more harm than good.

Antioxidants are good for you
Many people seem to be obsessed with antioxidants. They want to eat antioxidant foods, have an antiinflammatory diet and take drugs that act as antioxidants. They consume turmeric and cumin along with Vitamins E and C, the powerful antioxidant vitamins. Their belief is that these foods and vitamins, which can absorb free radicals formed by oxygen, can improve skin appearance, slow aging, reduce cancer risk and prolong life.

Well, guess what? Oxidation — the formation of free radicals by oxygen — is exactly what kills cancer cells. Oxidation is your body’s response to “micro cancers” — abnormal cells that occur in our bodies literally millions of times. Your system destroys these cells through the oxidative ability of free radicals. If you take a lot of antioxidants, you may actually be suppressing your body’s ability to keep down these micro-cancers and abnormal cells.

So are you helping yourself or hurting yourself when take lots of antioxidants? In fact, there’s very little high-quality science that supports any benefit from an increased ingestion of antioxidants over the amount one would get in a normal diet.


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