Water myths debunked

By Morgan Sherburne • Published: December 30th, 2015
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

There’s a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip in which Calvin accidentally drinks too much water and upsets the make-believe balance of liquid-to-body mass ratio. His body turns into a puddle.

As it turns out, Calvin is actually on a road trip with his parents and just needs to tend to his bladder.

But some may feel that way, trying to abide by the pervasive suggestion that each human must drink eight glasses of water each day.

A 2007 paper debunked this myth, pointing out that a 1945 recommendation could be behind the advice. That recommendation did suggest adults consume 2.5 liters of water per day — but that much of that water was delivered in prepared foods.

A 1970s survey found that adults ages 20 to 64 did drink an average of 57 ounces of fluid per day. But only about 34 ounces was water. The rest was coffee, tea, soft drinks — even alcohol.

Researchers have found correlations between some diseases and increased water drinking. One 10-year study found that for each additional 8 ounces of water consumed by men who typically drank less than 43 ounces, their risk for bladder cancer decreased by 7 percent. Researchers saw a similar correlation for colon cancer. But they also suggest that there should be no blanket water-drinking recommendation for everyone.

Also debunked? The admonitions that dark urine means dehydration, and that when you become thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

There are even dangers in drinking too much water. This can cause hyponatremia, a condition in which sodium in your body becomes too diluted. Your cells can begin to swell, causing nausea and vomiting, headache, confusion and possibly death.

So while it’s good to stay hydrated, and water is probably the healthiest option to do so, there seems to be no real reason to test the limits of your bladder.