When it comes to health, we tend to seek the advice of doctors and healthcare professionals. Sometimes they give us contradicting advice and we are left wondering who or what to believe. They may also change their minds a few months or years down the road, leaving us patients confused or unsure.
But with medicine and science always evolving and new medical discoveries constantly being made, we don’t always have a guarantee on what will work and what won’t. Healthcare professionals have also realized that just because long-standing treatments and medical procedures were published in a scientific study or journal in the past, it doesn’t mean it will always apply to the changing health issues of the future. These are just a few of the conclusions healthcare professionals have changed their minds about.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
If you remember pinching the side of your gut and grabbing more than an inch of flesh, you probably thought you were overweight. But as it turns out, that more-than-an-inch flab doesn’t mean what everyone originally thought. In 1998, doctors used the Body Mass Index (BMI) table to figure out healthy weights for people across the board in an easy and simple manner. The BMI used a calculation of dividing a person’s weight in pounds by their height in square inches and then multiplying the result by 703. According to the National Institutes of Health, a person with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 was considered healthy, 25 and 29.9 was considered overweight, and more than 30 was obese.
But in 2014, healthcare professionals saw inconsistencies with this process because the BMI didn’t factor the person’s age, gender, or muscle mass into the equation. It also couldn’t differentiate between lean and fat body mass, which is critical information when determining if someone is healthy, average, overweight, or obese. Today, doctors don’t rely on the BMI alone when measuring someone’s overall health and fitness level. They also have to take into account body fat percentage, physical activity levels, and waist circumference.
As it turns out, eating fat can be good for you. During the 1970s, doctors were ordering patients to get rid of saturated fats from their diets because studies had shown a correlation between coronary heart disease and high levels of cholesterol. Reduced fat products became a popular staple in many American diets, causing people to consume even more sugar in their meals to compensate for the flavor lost when saturated fats were removed.
Today, many doctors have changed their mind about removing saturated fats from people’s diets because it prompted an obesity problem in the country. New studies also showed that there was no link between saturated fats and a higher risk of heart disease. Not only did doctors get it wrong about saturated fats, they also claim it to be the worst medical advice given in the last 40 years. Physicians are now on the same page and recommend eating healthy fats like avocados and nuts and saturated fats like eggs and meat in moderation along with fresh produce for a balanced, healthy diet.
The transgender community was classified as having psychological disorders just a few years ago. The American Psychiatric Association labeled people who were transgender as having a gender identity disorder, which was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980. The term “disorder” carried a stigma that followed the transgender community. Today, the term “gender identity disorder” has been replaced in the manual as “gender dysphoria” and is not considered a disorder or medical condition that requires treatment.
For women over the age of 40, routine mammograms were thought to have been critical in early detection of abnormalities and breast cancer. But it turns out that annual mammograms at this age aren’t necessary after all. In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force updated its information and has since recommended that women between the ages 50 and 74 get biennial mammograms. While mammograms can detect early-stage breast cancer, studies have shown that these tests can’t spot advanced breast cancer any earlier, which led to many false positive results for women ages 40 to 49. However, The American Cancer Society doesn’t agree with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force studies and still tells women to get annual mammogram tests beginning at age 40.