The mid-1900s were full of great habits like chain smoking and slathering on baby oil to cook in the sun. With the 21st century's superior knowledge of all things bad for you, society can now look back and think "didn't they know they were killing themselves?". Hindsight is 20/20, and everyone's quick to judge.
While people partaking in those harmful habits didn't realize just how bad they were, modern society is equally guilty of engaging in risky behavior today without realizing it.
Scientists are constantly researching and determining whether things are "good" or "bad" for our bodies; and at the rate these discoveries are going, it seems like sometime within the next 10 years, several common practices and popular items will be proven to have some unpredictable negative effects. Until then, people are left naively going about their daily routines and commonly engaging in potentially harmful activities. You probably never would have guessed that some of the things you do to stay healthy could actually be bad for you.
The following are some things that you do nearly every day that could, quite possibly, be harmful. This list contains suggestions from real scientists who believe these items could potentially be bad for you, from opinions, and studies that have been conducted or are planned. Of course, these entries are speculative - they have not been conclusively proven to be bad for you.
10 Getting a C-section
While the idea of giving birth naturally might be daunting, the alternative could actually be unhealthy for your new little baby. Cesarean sections, commonly known as c-sections, are an alternative to natural birth where a doctor surgically removes the child surgically. C-sections are sometimes unavoidable due to complications with natural birth, but elective procedures are growing increasingly more popular because they're perceived to be less painful for the mother.
So what's the downside? For the mother, just the scar she'll be left with and the lengthy recovery period. The greatest danger could be for the baby. Research has found that babies born from c-sections tend to have higher rates of allergies because they aren't exposed to the good bacteria they get from their mother when born the traditional way.
A c-section removal also leaves amniotic fluid in the infant's lungs, which could lead to asthma. Traditional birth helps prevent this because the excess fluid is squeezed from the lungs when the baby is forced through the narrow birth canal.
9 Washing your hands
Everyone knows some germaphobes who wash their hands compulsively and use hand sanitizer every 5 minutes. But it turns out that instead of being extra healthy, using anti-bacterial everything could have adverse effects. This practice isn't directly harmful to the antibacterial lover; but it impacts everyone else.
The prevalence of anti-bacterial products in the world, ranging from soaps to sanitizers to pillow cases to even the meat we eat, is doing the opposite of what it's intended for. Since anti-bacterial products don't kill all the bacteria (they're only 99.9% effective, you know), they kill the weaker strains and leave the strong. Over time, this will result in bacteria strains that are completely resistant to our meager assassination attempts and, in turn, cause people to get sick.
In addition, people who seem addicted to antibacterial products are lowering their immune systems by failing to expose themselves to germs naturally; this doesn't mean you shouldn't wash your hands; just give the antibacterial hand sanitizer a break.
Now, it seems that simply being alive is a harmful activity, since you're exposed to nanoparticles consistently throughout your day. These are small particles that are emitted from all kinds of products — metals in cars and construction, sunscreen, moisturizers and car emissions.
Since these particles are so small, it's been hard for scientists to detect whether they're actually harmful or not. However, there are theories that being exposed to too many of them can cause damage in the cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) tissue.
Extreme inflammation in the lungs (potentially caused by nanoparticles) can lead to swelling of the neurons in the brain, which causes severe memory problems. Some people use this as a reason to avoid sunscreen, but it definitely protects against UV rays so its benefits still outweigh the predicted negatives.
7 Taking natural supplements
This is something innumerable people do without realizing it could actually be a scam. Places like GNC and Whole Foods are stocked full of "natural supplements", which purport to aid bodily functions or treat maladies. However, since they're labeled as a natural supplement, the FDA has no regulation over them, which means they haven't been tested to see if they actually work. The companies that produce these supplements have no obligation to back up their claims.
Since a lot of these products can't be tested or regulated, there are potential dangers. For example, some natural pre-workout energizing supplements have harmful side-effects. They do, in fact, pump you up for a workout, but many of them also can cause heart problems from over-exciting your body.
A lot of the natural supplement companies make outlandish claims to be a natural pill to help you drop all your fat, but in reality often end up doing nothing at all or, worse, harming your body.
6 Cleaning products
This one is kind of a no-brainer. Obviously, extended exposure to the chemicals in cleaning products will most likely be harmful. Many cleaning products give off toxic fumes and if inhaled can act like poison to your body. Some products, when mixed together, can create concoctions that are deadly if inhaled.
This doesn't mean that you shouldn't clean your house in order to avoid these chemicals; it's all about concentration. The sporadic intense cleaning with Clorox isn't going to give you cancer or make you pass out. This kind of thing is more harmful to people who work with them on daily basis for majority of the day. That kind of exposure is believed to be harmful, although it has yet to be directly connected to any diseases.
5 Eating soy
Soy beans, soy milk, soy sauce, soy tofu, soy protein, so much soy. Soy in the form of beans or tofu can be a healthy alternative to meat, but when it isn't moderated it can be harmful - especially for pregnant women.
Soy has a high concentration of estrogen analogs, which led scientists to run tests on how it affects organisms. They found that the high concentration of estrogen can interrupt hormone signaling, and that this is harmful during developmental stages of pregnancy. While they haven't directly tested this on humans - only on animals - it's believed it could be harmful for humans in the same way.
This is a problem as soy is an additive in a lot of products. It is often found in things like pasta sauces and breads; places it isn't needed.
4 Working a desk job
Most white collar jobs often require employees to sit and stare at a computer screen for majority of the day. It's no secret that being sedentary isn't good for you and it wouldn't be terribly surprising if long stints of looking at electronic screens turn out to be bad for you as well. Being so connected to technology has its benefits, but there are drawbacks as well.
Some people suggest you take a 5 minute break for every hour you sit and look or recommend you stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Both are good breaks, but neither remedy how harmful long periods of sitting can be. Of course, others argue that working this way is still better for one's health than doing a physically demanding, riskier job.
3 Smoking e-cigarettes
With the rise of anti-smoking campaigns and the omnipresent reminders about just how bad smoking is for you, more people than ever have turned to alternative methods.
E-cigarettes are supposedly a "safe" alternative to smoking real cigarettes, but people are beginning to question how safe vaping really is. Many people in the medical field believe these e-cigarettes will be linked to adverse side effects in the long term. Since this alternative hasn't been around long, there hasn't been sufficient time to study how they affect the body.
While they are almost certainly less damaging than real cigarettes, they come with their own definitive dangers. Since the smoke is lighter, more like a vapor, people can smoke them anywhere, which means they can be smoked much more frequently than traditional cigarettes, leading to increased problems with addiction.
2 Eating High Fructose Corn Syrup
A few years ago, a campaign was launched against HFCS. Many companies said they'd no longer add it to their food, because it seemed clear this additive could be really bad for consumers' health.
But HFCS is still in almost every processed food and is very difficult to avoid. Consuming processed products over the span of 40-50 years is almost certain to damage one's health.
Since HFCS is essentially a cheap sugar, and people love sugar, it's loaded into foods in order to entice customers and encourage addiction. Many sources claim that overconsumption of sugar can lead to poison-like symptoms and others link refined sugar to obesity
1 Unfiltered water
The act of drinking water itself isn't bad for you, of course; it's all the chemicals in the water that are potentially dangerous. There is substantial evidence that a lot of the medicines and drugs we consume, as well as fertilizers and insect killers we use, find their way into the watershed, where tap water comes from.
This water is then recycled through taps and used to drink or cook with. This becomes a problem because the water isn't, or doesn't have time to be, properly filtered.
The effects of ingesting the chemical runoff in the watershed have been studied in relation to frogs (because they are closely correlated with that environment, and have similar hormones to our own). These studies have shown that being exposed to unclean water is detrimental to the frog's growth and health, which leads one to conclude that it can't be that good for us. Simple things like filtering water in your home before you drink it can help eradicate the impurities deposited by chemical runoff.