1. Is money really that dirty? Do I have to wash my hands after touching it?
In one study, 94 percent of bills had pathogenic or potentially pathogenic organisms on them. (Interestingly, another study showed 92 percent tested positive for cocaine.) But at the end of the day, are they dangerous? No. Our skin provides a barrier. Just avoid sucking on dollar bills, and do less cocaine, please.
2. What’s the popping sound in my hip (or elbow or knee) when I do certain stretches or exercises?
When you stretch a joint, it creates a vacuum that literally sucks gas out of the fluid inside the joint. Pop. No big deal.
3. Does warm water quench thirst as effectively as cold water?
No. Cold water actually slows gastric emptying, and because the water hangs around longer, it gives your stomach time to tell your brain that you’re hydrated.
4. When I notice a new problem, how many days should I wait for it to go away before I talk to a doctor?
If you have crushing chest pain that feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest, maybe see a doctor, because you’re having a heart attack. Same if you’re passing out. But if you’ve got diarrhea or the flu, two to three days is very reasonable. Five to seven days for a sprained joint.
5. Carrots: honestly good for the eyes or old wives’ tale?
Lutein is the best for eyes — and it’s in leafy, green vegetables. The carrot rumor was started during the Second World War. The Nazis realized that the British were getting a lot of lucky shots on their aircraft, and so the British started the rumor that their pilots were being given carrots to improve their eyesight. Which was hogwash. What they really did was discover radar.
6. I’ve had lower-back pain for years. Flares up when I run on concrete, like when I play tennis or basketball. Any athletic shoes or equipment that you can recommend to soften the impact?
You want orthotics. They work. I like Zapz (masterfitenterprises.com).
7. My dermatologist asked me how many sunburns I got before I was 18. Is that when I screwed myself with the melanoma?
We used to think you got most of your UV exposure before age 18. Now we know it’s more like 25 percent. But even if you burn once, you increase the chance of developing melanoma. But we’re talking about blistering burns, like in The Heartbreak Kid. Not just a little redness.