Debunked: Human Body Myths


There are easily a million books that intricately explain the structure, working and the various complexities of the human body. Since all the people in the world don’t really have the time to read every book cover to cover, we fall back on all the things that our fathers and forefathers told us about the human body. However, we are a generation of curious minds and fortunately, science provides us with all the help that we need to feed our curiosity. This curiosity has led to the debunking of myths about the human body that we grew up listening to. A special, special thanks to science for helping with the process.

Here’s a list of all the myths, backed up by scientific explanations, that you need to stop believing right now.

Myth: Every human being has a unique fingerprint.
Reality: There is no concrete evidence for this as it is practically impossible to compare the fingerprints of every person who has ever lived on earth. There’s a possibility that two people from two different times can have a similar fingerprint pattern.

Myth: Every human has 5 senses.
Reality: Around 350 BC, Aristotle stated that we have five senses- sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. However, in the 21st century, scientists have estimated that there are easily over 20 types of senses which include the sense of balance (equilibrioception), sense of temperature (thermoception), sense of movement (kinaesthesia) and sense of pain(nociception).

Myth: There are different ‘flavour zones’ in your tongue.
Reality: The credit for this myth goes to an old German study that misinterpreted the fact that every tongue has its own varying patterns of strengths and weaknesses. All the areas of the tongue can detect taste equally however, some tongues have a strong sense of taste for a particular flavor.

Myth: Swallowed chewing gum takes 7 years to digest.
Reality: Gum has a synthetic rubber base that makes it hard to digest but that doesn’t mean that swallowed gum stays inside the body for 7 long years. Rodger Liddle, a gastroenterologist at the Duke University School of Medicine, told Scientific American, “the human body is capable of passing objects up to roughly the size of a quarter, so a single piece of gum should pose no problem.”

Myth: Fingernails and hair continue to grow after death.
Reality: Debunking this myth is quite easy as hair and fingernails grow with the generation of new cells in the body, which is practically impossible after death. After death, the skin becomes dehydrated and shrinks which might make the hair and nails appear longer.

Myth: You can’t die of a broken heart.
Reality: This myth was considered to be true until the time doctors found out that there is something known as the “broken heart syndrome.” In the broken heart syndrome, the heart temporarily enlarges due to mental trauma or emotional stress which can cause cardiac arrest and eventually, death.

Myth: Migraines are nothing but bad headaches.
Reality: First of all, the symptoms, signs, and treatments for both the conditions differ considerably. In addition to that, migraines include nausea, light and sound sensitivity, functional impairment, sleep dysfunction, anxiety and depression whereas a headache is, well, just a headache.

Myth: Your blood turns blue when it is out of oxygen.
Reality: When your blood does not get enough oxygen, it tends to turn dark red in color; because we see blood through multiple layers of skin, it appears to be blue in color.

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