Medical Myths

Debunking junk science

We put to bed three surprising urban legends of the healthcare world.

Myth: All diagnostic studies are 100 percent accurate.

With imaging studies like MRI, it's more like 95 percent, says Jerry Barron, orthopedic surgeon at Barron & Homesley Orthopedics Specialists. "Even under ideal circumstances, these tests can have up to 5 percent false positives or negatives." 

Myth: You can't get pregnant if you're breastfeeding.

Not true, says Paul Marshburn, division director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Carolinas Medical Center. "While breastfeeding can cause decreased rates of ovulation, it's a poor method of protection from pregnancy," he says.

Myth: Birth-control pills can cause cancer.

If anything, says Marshburn, the opposite is true. "Oral contraceptive pill use is associated with decreased risk of ovarian cancer, and helps to protect against endometrial cancer in some women."

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