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E-mail Health Rumors: Fact or Fiction?

Thanks to the Internet, health rumors spread fast and far these days. Here, three recent rumors and the truth about each:

Rumor: Vicks VapoRub works better when applied to the feet instead of the chest.
True or False? False. "There's no reason this would work better than putting it on your child's chest," says Jennifer Shu, M.D., a pediatrician and coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn.

Rumor: Kids can get drunk from drinking hand sanitizer.
True or False? True, but only in theory. A child would have to swallow a lot. "Sanitizers do contain sixty percent alcohol, but they taste terrible, so it's unusual for a child to ingest too much," says Carlos Lerner, M.D., medical director of the Children's Health Center at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA. Still, it's best to keep containers out of reach.

Rumor: Shopping carts harbor more germs than public toilets.
True or False? True. (Yuck!) "We isolated fecal bacteria more commonly on shopping carts," says University of Arizona microbiologist Chuck Gerba, M.D. The source is probably kids in diapers. Other harmful bacteria from meat and vegetables may linger on the seat, too. To reduce your child's exposure, use disinfecting wipes on the seat and handle.