5 Major Health Controversies (That Doctors Got All Wrong)

Science is far from perfect, and our understanding of human health is constantly evolving. The history of modern medicine is riddled with mistakes, from “curing” the mentally ill with lobotomies to recommending cigarette smoking for good health. We may have learned from those mishaps, but that hasn’t kept doctors from messing up in more recent controversies.

Eating Fats Will Make You Fat

Do you remember the fad of decades past, when all things diet had to be fat-free? So sparked the beginning of America’s unprecedented fear of fats — and its love affair with sugar. Many of us are still struggling after all these years to deprogram that bunk from our minds, and far too many people continue to suffer health consequences in the form of diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.

We now have a better understanding of how vital fat is to the diet, and that dietary fat doesn’t specifically add extra padding to your waistline. Excess calories do that, regardless of their source. More importantly, we know the types of fats you eat can make the difference between a healthy diet and one that’s downright toxic.

Avoid saturated and trans fats, found primarily in animal fats and hydrogenated vegetable oils. Both can raise bad cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. Instead, use oils that give you a variety of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. You can find these healthy fats in vegetable oil blends, olive oil and fatty fish like salmon.

Margarine is Better for You Than Butter

We can’t fully discuss the controversy over fats without also including the battle of the tubs. As mentioned above, hydrogenated vegetable oils are terrible for your heart. So why is margarine still so popular?

Around the same time fats, in general, were demonized, saturated fats took a massive blow over their connection with heart disease. We had no idea back then how much more dangerous trans fats were, only that we needed to reduce our saturated fat intake. We now know margarine is far worse for you than butter, and yet margarine use is still stubbornly ingrained in many Americans.

Coffee Will Stunt Your Growth

Generations were raised to believe it, but it’s just not true. Caffeine does nothing to stunt your growth. A cup or two a day is safe for most people, but more than that can cause anxiety, jitters, and sleeplessness. Coffee’s also addictive, with withdrawals that can make life miserable for a week or two. So while you have no reason to stash your coffee away from the kids, you’ll still want to monitor their intake.

Eggs Will Give You Heart Disease

Doctors just can’t seem to make up their mind on this one, although the current consensus holds that eggs are a healthy addition to just about any diet. Eggs are high in protein, vitamin B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids, making them packed with nutrition.

Many of us were taught to avoid eggs since they’re relatively high in cholesterol, but most doctors now agree that dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol. Even more, what we often eat with eggs — bacon, sausage, potatoes fried in butter — has a greater impact on our cholesterol intake than the eggs themselves. Regardless, eggs are good for you, so feel free to eat three to five each week unless your doctor tells you specifically not to.

OxyContin Is Safer Than Other Opioids

An aggressive advertising campaign in the late 1990s led to an explosion of OxyContin prescriptions — and a plague of addiction. The manufacturer, Purdue, managed to convince physicians that the powerful opioid was significantly less addictive than other drugs in its class. The company shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars to fly doctors to symposiums, have representatives wine and dine them and gift prescription vouchers to get patients hooked.

Purdue has received multiple reprimands for its actions, and may now even face bankruptcy, but the damage has been done. The areas initially subject to the highest prescription rates now suffer some of the highest rates of opioid addiction, overdose, and death. Many of the fallen started off as ordinary people who were in pain and took the drugs in good faith. The entire system failed them.

We all want to be able to trust our doctors, and we should trust them, but we also need to remember they too are only human. Trust your gut above all else. If it doesn’t feel quite right, the one in the wrong might not be you.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension!

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