London, Apr 19: From starving a fever to vitamin C curing a cold - people around the world have blindly followed these age-old health tips in the form of old wives' cures. But according to a new report, such tales should not be trusted at all.
According to leading health experts, some of the cures passed down through the generations can make illnesses worse. The myth-busting study claimed that cracking knuckles does not cause arthritis, sitting on cold surfaces does not give a person piles and vitamin C will not cure a cold.
There is no proof that starving a fever is good for you - indeed doctors say it is better to keep eating and take in plenty of water when temperatures run high.
However, some of the advice does amount to more than a medical myth. For example an apple a day could keep the doctor away, as it contains health-promoting anti-oxidants, and chicken soup is good for the sniffles.
The study by FSB Care, a health support group and offshoot of the Federation of Small Businesses, also confirmed the advice that red wine can be beneficial in small amounts.
The study found half of all adults believe at least one piece of homespun medical advice. But the study warns that most of it is wrong and some tips could even put people at risk.
For example, the old mantra of "feed a cold, starve a fever" could be dangerous, as anyone with either condition should eat nutritious food and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and help control a temperature.
However, a third of people surveyed remembered and believed the advice.
Despite what your mother told you, going out with wet hair is not going to cause a cold, yet one in six people believe it. Colds are caused by a virus which is unaffected by weather and wet hair.
More than a quarter of respondents believe the myth that the flu vaccine actually injects the live virus into the patient to build up immunity - which might account for the low take-up rates.
Around half the population mistakenly believes Vitamin C cures a cold, one in five reckons cracking knuckles leads to arthritis and one in seven that sitting on cold surfaces will cause piles.
"In an age of information, knowing what to believe and what not to believe can be a tricky and confusing business. It's only natural then that many of us resort to the teachings of our parents - the only problem is that even family can be wrong sometimes," the Telegraph quoted Sandy Harris, a spokesman for FSB Care, as saying.
"The bottom line is that anyone confused over any particular medical issue should consult a professional to put their mind at ease," Harris added.