False, distorted or misinterpreted health information is dangerous to public health because this information influences health decisions and attitudes towards health interventions.
While this is more common during disease outbreaks, health misinformation thrives in and out of season throughout the year because people seek helpful medical information daily.
Below are some ridiculous health claims that trended in 2023 and were verified by DUBAWA.
- Masturbation leads to baldness
A Twitter (X) user earlier in the year asserted that masturbation causes baldness (a state of hair loss or absence of hair). This X user claimed that not everyone is bald due to nature; some are a result of masturbation. How an act of erotic stimulation could be linked to the hair growth cycle stirred curiosity.
- Alcohol shrinks the penis
Alcoholic drinks, from the exquisite taste of fine wine to the refreshing fizz of beer, have been enjoyed by many globally. So you can imagine how many people would be stunned by the assertion that alcohol causes the penis to shrink.
Different scientific research on the Prevalence of Sexual Dysfunction in Male Subjects with Alcohol Dependence concluded that alcohol consumption could have adverse effects on sexual function. Still, the shrinkage of the penis was not identified as one of the sexual dysfunctions.
- Imported apples are painted from green to red with chemicals
In April 2023, a viral video on Facebook claimed that the apples imported into the country were painted green and red with chemicals. This video was alarming as it came amid concerns about the safety of the food Nigerians consume.
An article l by Medical News Today revealed that the Apple fruit comes in varieties such as McIntosh (a juicy, red apple with tender, white flesh and a tangy flavour), Red Delicious (a crisp, juicy red apple), Fuji (a yellow and red apple with firm, sweet flesh), Granny Smith (a green apple with crisp, greenish flesh and a sharp flavour), and Golden Delicious (a yellow apple with a mild, sweet flavour).
Studying the footage and the context in which it was shared in 2021, we identified that they were not real Apples but Apple-shaped items, gifts commonly presented by the Chinese to their friends and loved ones on Christmas or Valentine’s Day.
- Wetting your head first in the shower causes stroke
A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, is a medical condition that occurs when something blocks the blood supply to part of the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, leading to brain damage or the death of the brain.
A Facebook user in Oct. alleged that strokes are more common in the bathrooms because of a bath sequence which involves soaking the head and hair first.
We found no evidence showing that bathing in any sequence causes a stroke. The risk factors of stroke highlighted by doctors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.
- Excess consumption of cassava can lead to death
Cassava is a highly consumed food in Nigeria. Globally, the country is recognised as the highest exporter of the produce and accounts for one-third of cassava production in Africa. However, a Facebook user asserts that consuming too much cassava can be deadly.
Experts reveal that the health risk of consuming cassava is if it is raw, not in excess. This is linked to the presence of “naturally occurring forms of cyanide” within the crop that can trigger poisoning if ingested. This occurs if the cassava is not adequately prepared.
So, although cassava processing methods, such as peeling, chopping and cooking, can reduce its nutritional value, it is still advised that the culture of cooking the root crop before consumption be upheld.