Top 10 E-Mail Health Hoaxes of the Decade

Aug 17 22:03 2006 Manolito Montala Print This Article

Have you checked your inbox lately? Here are picks for the worst email health hoaxes.

Here,Guest Posting In no particular order, are the 12 worst a-mall health hoaxes of the last decade. All have been thoroughly debunked by health ant medical experts

1. Antiperspirants cause breast cancer.

This hoax began circulating In 1999 and claims that the use of antiperspirant (deodorants are safety) is the leading cause of breast cancer. Citing a ''health seminar'' as the source of information, the writer alleges that antiperspirants prevent the body from eliminating toxins through sweat, resulting in the accumulation of toxins in lymph nodes, which eventually leads to cancer. Men are less likely to develop breast cancer through the use of antiperspirants "because most of the antiperspirant product is caught in their (armpit) hair and is not directly applied to the skin. '' .

The writer then urges readers to pass on the message ''to anyone you care about ''.

2. Aspartame causes serious disease.

Also making its first appearance in 1999, this hoax claims that the artificial sweetener aspartame causes more than a dozen serious medical conditions, including brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, and lupus, ant confusion, memory loss, and severe vision loss among diabetics There are two versions the first and more popular was supposedly written by a Betty Martini, an alleged lecturer at the World Environmental Conference. In the second version, a Nancy Markle is the author. The Multiple sclerosis Foundation denies any knowledge of association between aspartame and multiple sclerosis, whale the American diabetes association debunks the allegations regarding aspartame and diabetes. The US FDA attests to the safety of aspartame.

3. Bananas spread flesh- eating disease.

This hoax first appeared In January 2000 and claimed that several shipments of bananas from Costa Rica were infected with a flesh-eating bacterium that causes necrotizing fasciistis. The e-mall cites a Manheim Research Institute as the source of the warning. Necrotizing fasciitis is a real but rare infection caused by Group A streptococcus, the same bacterium that causes strep throat. It attacks soft tissues under the skin, resulting In gangrene, amputation and even death. Group A streptococci are spread by direct contact with secretions from the nose and throat of infected persons or by contact with infected wounds or sores. The germ lives in the human body and cannot survive long enough on the surface of a banana.

4. Cough CPR can save your life.

In 1999, e-mall purportedly endorsed by the Rochester General Hospital and Mended Hearts (a support group for heart attack victims) claimed that repeated, vigorous coughing could save the life of a person who suffers a head attack while alone. According to, through CPR'' (or "self-CPR'') is a real procedure occasionally used in emergency situations under professional supervision. It is not, however, taught in standard CPR courses, nor is it advised by most medical professionals as a ''lifesaving'' measure for people who experience heart attacks while alone.

5. Fish Contaminated With Deadly 'Zulican Virus '' After Tsunami.

Immediately after the Asian tsunami disaster In December 2004, a wave of text messages (SMS) and forwarded e-mails warned Asian consumers to avoid eating seafood ''because fish killed bathe Indian Ocean tsunami are infected with the deadly 'Zulican virus ''. This hoax caused not only fear among consumers but also a drastic drop. In sales of fish and fish products. In several Asian countries HeaIth authorities have since declared that the ''Zulican virus'' is bogus, and there is no evidence suggesting toadfish caught after the tsunami are unfit for consumption.

6. Freezing Water In Plastic Battles Releases Cancer-Causing Dioxin.

This widely circulated 2004 hoax purportedly relayed information from a Johns Hopkins newsletter claiming that freezing water in plastic bottles can release toxic dioxin and cause cancer. Johns Hopkins university denied they issued such information in a special news release. Professor Rolf Haiden of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said "This is an urban legend Freezing actually works against the release of chemicals. Chemicals do not diffuse as readily in cold temperatures, which would limit chemical release if there were dioxins in plastic, and we don't think there are ''

7. Woman Catches Leptospirosis From Unwashed Coke Can.

In 2002, several variants of this hoax claimed that a woman in North Texas (or Belgium, Botswana, etc was infected with the deadly leptospirosis disease after drinking Coke straight from an unwashed can contaminated with dried rat urine. Leptospirosis is a real disease transmitted via rat urine or feces. Urbanlegends says soda cans are usually stored and shipped in shrink-wrap or cardboard cases and are, therefore, unlikely vehicles for dried rat urine, contaminated or otherwise. Of course, washing off the top of a soda can-or any bottle, for that matter-before drinking. It is always a good idea.

8. Lead In Lipstick.

This 2003 hoax claimed that several brand-name lipsticks (Christian Dior, lancome Clinique, YSL, etc ) contain "cancer-causing lead '' and Its presence can be tested by scratching products with a 24-karat gold ring Urbanlegends about com found neither reliable Information to support the claims nor warnings or references of any kind in International medical Journals and the FDA'S online database on the presence of lead in lipstick.

9. Tampons Contain Asbestos.

This e-mall scare story began circulating In 1998 It alleges that tampons pose a serious health threat to women because they contain asbestos As usual, the message was unsigned, urged recipients to send It to every Woman they knew, and positively unsettling. Experts dismissed the allegations as absurd ''Tampons do not contain asbestos and never have. No research has been published anywhere to even suggest lid's according to urbanlegends about com

10. Shampoo Causes Cancer.

Circulating since 1998, this hoax claims that sodium laureate sulfate, a synthetic chemical found in brand-name shampoos and other personal-care products, causes cancer Again, the message Is unsigned and cites no references to support its claims It Is true that sodium Iaureth sulfate (SLES) is found frequently In shampoos ant occasionally In toothpastes However, the chemical does not appear on any official list of known or suspected carcinogens, says urbanlegends about comSMART SKEPTICWhy do people create and sent hoax messages? Hoaxbusters com says only the original writer knows, but cites some possibilities to see how far a message would go, to damage a person's or organization's reputation, or simply for the perverse pleasure of spreading misinformation Whatever the motivation may be behind hoax messages, maintain a healthy dose of skepticism when checking your inbox When you receive an e-mall that looks like a hoax, the most prudent course of action Is to verify the Information with a medical professional before acting on or sharing It Or just hit the delete button As hoaxbusters com aptly puts it, ''When in doubt, don't send it out ''

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Manolito Montala
Manolito Montala

Manolito Montala is a webmaster and one of his interests is collecting local medicinal herb plants information which can be found in Filipino Herbs Healing Wonders. You can also visit his site in

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