Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
As children, most of us heard lots of health advice. Unfortunately, some of
it, however well-intentioned, was medically incorrect. See if you've ever heard
- or believed - any of these common summer health myths.
"Wait a half hour after eating before you can safely go swimming." This one seemed almost universally
accepted when I was a child and is still believed today. The myth involves the
possibility of suffering severe muscle cramping and drowning from
a full stomach. While it's true that the digestive process does divert the
circulation of the blood toward the
gut and to a certain extent, away from the muscles, the fact is that an
episode of drowning caused by swimming on a full stomach has never been
documented. Neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the American Red Cross makes any specific recommendations
about waiting any amount of time after eating before taking a swim. There's a
theoretical possibility that one could develop a cramp while swimming with a
full stomach, but a person swimming in a pool or controlled swimming area
could easily exit the water
if this happens. As with any exercise after eating, swimming right after a
big meal might be uncomfortable, but it won't cause you to drown.
"Sunburn will fade into a tan," or "You need to burn first before you start to tan."
Sunburn is a
burn and not a prerequisite stage for a tan. Sunburn will result in skin
damage, redness, and eventual peeling. Any amount of sun exposure poses an
"Dark-skinned people don't need
sunscreen." People with lighter skins
have less melanin, the pigment that absorbs UV radiation and
protects skin, than darker-skinned people. While light-skinned people will be
very sensitive to the effects of UV rays from the sun, those with darker skins
can still be affected by damaging UV radiation. The American Academy of
Dermatology recommends routine sunscreen use (with an SPF of at least 15)
for dark-skinned people.
Finally, there's the watermelon-seed myth. No, the seeds won't germinate and grow in your
stomach if you swallow them. There is a very small risk of damage to the
intestine (inflammation, obstruction, or a wound or tear in the bowel) from
swallowing any small, sharp object such as a seed. A watermelon or other type
of seed could potentially lodge inside the appendix and lead to appendicitis, but this is very unlikely to happen. The benefits
of including fruit in your diet far outweigh any risks associated with