Drowning in new health studies
LOOKING at all the conflicting studies on the benefits and hazards of various foods and beverages, it's pretty clear that life is a fatal disease.
Every time one of these new studies come out, I cringe because I know I will be happily munching on whatever the offending substance is at the time I am reading about its fatal effects.
Scientists just can't get their brains around whether coffee, tea, beer, wine, soda, or milk is good or bad for you. I imagine bipolar lab researchers maniacally rocking back and forth grasping a bottle of red wine screaming, "I just don't know anymore! Is it good? Is it bad? Is the 2000 Chateau Pichon-Longueville-Baron, Grand Cru Classe Pauillac the Antichrist?"
The latest in absolutely incontestable studies revealed that beer can inhibit a number of cancers, as long as you drink 17 bottles a day. This study was conducted at Oregon State University, my alma mater, where I can testify that finding research subjects who can drink 17 beers a day is a walk in the park, or quad.
Beaver researchers (that is, OSU researchers, the beaver being OSU's mascot) found that beer contains a compound called xanthohu ... well, it's a big hairy chemical with too many letters to go into here, but it apparently is good for you.
The trouble is that duck researchers (that is, researchers from the University of Oregon, whose mascot is the duck) will tell you that drinking 17 beers a day might keep you from getting prostrate cancer, but it's not doing your liver any favors. I think beavers and ducks are way more into alcohol research than they should be.
YES, DRINKING a vat of beer every day could cause cirrhosis of the liver, but guess what? Another study by researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. (I don't know what varmint their mascot is) found that drinking great heaps of coffee can help prevent cirrhosis. So, theoretically, if you just lived on beer and coffee, your innards would be relatively healthy.
Coffee also has been found by other researchers (muskrats?) to lower the risk of diabetes, Parkinson's disease and colon cancer. So, have that second Starbucks grande in good health. Just don't have it with milk. Because it turns out that cow's milk is really bad for you. In fact, while you are avoiding putting milk in your coffee, you'd better avoid the coffee, too, because I just came across another study that determined coffee contains a chemical linked to heart disease and stroke.
The problem with milk is that it has a lot of saturated fat and lactose. Saturated fat clogs the arteries, and people who are lactose intolerant pass gas loudly in public after consuming milk. You can find fat-free milk but, surprisingly, no farms housing fat-free cows. How that works, I don't know. Maybe the fat-free cow farms are next door to the boneless chicken ranches.
If you need calcium but are lactose intolerant, you are in a bind because milk does have a lot of calcium. So you drink milk and walk around knowing your bones are sturdy, but you are tooting like third trumpet in Dizzy Gillespie's band.
Everybody agrees that red wine is good (for beavers, ducks, muskrats, gerbils, etc.). The catch is that it has to be drunk in moderation. Some people interpret "moderation" to be 21 glasses of red wine a day, ergo the phrase "drunk in moderation."
So there you go. Beer, wine, milk, boneless chickens, fat-free cows, coffee and, I suppose, Grande Mocha Frappuccinos are good for you. Or maybe not. Consult your local varmint.
, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org