'20/20' Busts 10 Body Myths


When should you begin checking your blood pressure? Is your sunscreen really giving you the protection you think it is? "20/20" teams up anti-aging guru Dr. Michael F. Roizen and heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, authors of "You: The Owner's Manual" to debunk 10 body myths -- from why you gain weight to aging and memory.

Here are the body myths we debunked with our health experts and the truth behind them.

Memory Loss Is Inevitable

A lot of people believe that we use only 10 percent of our brain. Is that true?

"It's not true. In fact, you'd be in big trouble if you only used 10 percent. The reality is that we use all of our brain, but we don't use it all the time," said Dr. Oz.

"The brain was really hidden from us until we had new technologies that could allow us either to operate on the brain, or to see what the brain does when you're actually thinking or doing tasks."

Thanks to these advances, we can now see how challenging your mind can keep your brain young. Suzanne, who speaks four languages fluently -- English, Swiss-German, French, and German -- was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor in the language center of her brain. The problem is trying to remove the tumor without destroying her ability to speak her languages. Her treatment will give doctors at UCLA a rare opportunity to literally see how learning a language exercises the brain.

During surgery to remove the tumor, Suzanne, at one point, was awakened. She was shown pictures and asked to identify them in each of her languages.

An MRI lights up the part of the brain that Suzanne uses as she speaks. This helps the surgeon avoid the language area when removing the tumor. But the doctors discover something quite amazing -- each of Suzanne's languages resides in a different part of her brain.

The surgery is successful -- the tumor is removed and Suzanne's knowledge of four languages is saved. Her case busted a big brain myth -- that language resides in just one tiny area of the brain. Because Suzanne learned her languages at different ages, her brain stored them in different places -- showing that challenging your brain creates new neural pathways.

"Just like you challenge a muscle to grow it, well, the brain gets new connections," said Dr. Roizen.

And that busts another big brain myth -- that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Memory loss is not inevitable. Want to keep your brain young? Exercise it.

Try learning to play a musical instrument, doing crossword puzzles, learning a language -- even playing computer games.

"The data now indicate that an hour of games for 40 weeks can make your brain equivalent, your brain's real age, 10 years younger," Roizen said.

And one final brain myth: Does the size of a person's brain have anything to do with their intellectual capacity?

"There is no correlation with the size of a human brain and its intellect. In fact, Einstein was sort of a famous example. His brain was about average size -- no difference between his and almost any other brain," Oz said.

Slow Metabolism Makes You Fatter

We've all heard for years that people who are thin have won the biological lottery. They look like they can eat whatever they want without gaining a pound. We think they're lucky to have a high metabolism.

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