2.28.2009

Everybody panic (or not)

If you pay attention to health news, then you know that most everything is bad for us and we’ll all soon die.

Scientists tell us our air, food, water, clothes and homes are full of germs, viruses, bacteria, pollen, pollution, radiation, industrial toxins, hazardous chemicals, deadly diseases, dust mites, insect parts, cholesterol and cooties.

Selfless medical researchers work around the clock to provide us with fresh scares. Every day, it seems, there’s a new study about some health risk we’d never even considered before. Every week brings word of some newly imported tropical disease. It’s a great time to be a hypochondriac.

Most of us read health news, process the information, then go on about our lives exactly as before. Why? Because we know there’ll be another study along soon that will cancel out the one in the news.

It works like this: One group of researchers will find, say, that coffee causes human spleens to explode. Another group (funded by coffee companies) will quickly release a study that shows that not only does coffee NOT cause exploding spleens, but it builds strong bones, makes you taller and was the original fluid at the Fountain of Youth. Later, a third study will find that neither of the above was correct. These impartial scientists will say coffee is OK, as long as you practice moderation, exercise and keep an eye on your overall spleen health. Then another lab will find a link between coffee and some other ailment, and we’re off and running again.

There’s no way to follow that cycle and maintain your sanity. You’d end up changing all your health and eating habits every few weeks. Better to wait it out, keep a watchful eye, wait for the pendulum to swing the other way.

(I, personally, am waiting for the day they announce that tofu causes cancer. I’m one carnivore with a mean streak.)

If you wait long enough, the tide turns against most everything, even medicines.

Remember the stories about Ambien and Lunesta? Those two prescription sleep aids, the most
heavily advertised drugs in America, were found to cause bizarre behavior in some people. The Food and Drug Administration announced that users walked in their sleep, prepared and ate food in their sleep, even went “sleep-driving.” None had any memory of the activities the next morning.

The entire country has been consumed by obesity and its dire effects on the national health. What if it turned out that we’re getting fat because we’re up every night, sleep-eating?

Another recent study found that obese men are 42 percent less likely to commit suicide than thin men. Scientists analyzed statistics from 45,000 men, and found that suicide rates fell as body-mass indexes rose. The researchers theorized that heavier men might have higher levels of mood-regulating brain chemicals.

So, the findings would seem to indicate, obesity will kill you slowly, but it might keep you from killing yourself. Next week, no doubt, scientists will find that obesity causes exploding spleens.

In the meantime, I’m one fat boy who will revel in some good news for a change, while also protecting myself against suicide. I’m going to lay out a big spread of yummy, fattening food, take an Ambien or a Lunesta, and engage in some serious sleep-eating. Maybe go for a nice drive afterward, burping and snoozing my way across the countryside.

What could go wrong? I’m sure some health researchers are doing a government-funded study to find out.

1 comment:

Ivan Toblog said...

The gov't. oughta pay for a study to figure out how the researchers con them into paying for all of those self-canceling studies.