Archive for Sunday, June 22, 2008

Coffee study shakes up healthy habits

June 22, 2008


Boomer girl

So now drinking massive amounts of coffee is supposed to be good for me?

According to a new study released in the Annals of Internal Medicine, it is. Apparently (and I say "apparently" because the evidence "suggests," and whenever they say "suggest" they really don't have a clue) women who consumed 2 to 3 cups of coffee per day reduced their risk of dying from heart disease by 25 percent. When they upped the intake to 5 or 6 cups, the risk went down by 34 percent.

Well. That's just GREAT.

No sooner had I weaned myself down to a single daily cup of joe (because the last study "suggested" coffee was BAD for me) than a bunch of nerds in white lab coats tell me to go on java bender?

Sorry. Not buying it.

Oh sure, upon hearing the news, I drank my coffee pot dry, then ran out and ordered the tallest, hottest, triple-shotted cup of high-octane Sumatra-Peruvian blend I could find. By 11 a.m., I was typing 800 words a minute with 99 percent accuracy and was overjoyed at the prospect of staying up past 9 p.m. for the first time in months.

But, you know and I know, these studies have a three-minute shelf life. Sooner than later, I knew I'd be back on the green tea regimen, nodding off at stoplights and snoozing through "C.S.I." All because a new group of nerds in white lab coats will "suggest" that - breaking news! - coffee may cause leprosy, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and rickets.

I'm sick of this medical research merry-go-round ride.

Remember what they told us about eggs? Eat eggs, they said. Eggs have protein; they'll make your hair shiny. Minutes later, they said, no! Eggs have cholesterol; they'll kill you. Eat egg substitutes instead!

So, we all ran out to buy fake eggs in little milk cartons and, suddenly, omelets and Easter baskets were never the same.

And what about chicken? Eat chicken, they said. Chicken is lean, much better for you than red meat. The next day, they said, no! Chickens are pumped with steroids and antibiotics and raised in horribly crowded conditions. Eat free-range, antibiotic-free "smart" chickens instead.

(Which begs the philosophical question: Which came first, the "smart" chicken or the fake egg?)

The waffling continued over fish. Eat fish, they said. Fish have omega-3 fatty acids; they'll keep your arteries open. You'll live to be 100. Then, they said, no! Fish has mercury; it'll kill you faster than you can say "Food and Drug Administration." Eat flaxseed instead.

Who knows what to think about soy anymore? One day, it's a superfood - a must-have for the prevention of cancer, heart disease and bone deterioration. The next day - eh, not so much.

Get milk, they said. Milk will slim you down. That's right, folks, a high-dairy diet has been "suggested" to help dieters lose an extra 5 percent of body fat. Five percent! No wonder all the celebrities were sporting those disgustingly thick milk mustaches for a while. Suddenly, a report comes out tying dairy products to every disease known to man. One minute, milk does a body good. The next, you should avoid it like the plague.

And, finally, the great wine debate. Embracing the so-called French Paradox with open arms, I believed the association between red wine and decreased heart disease was real. It was the resveratrol, you see, the natural antioxidant found in red grape skins. Goodbye white wine, I cried. It was nice knowing you. But wait, they said. New evidence "suggests" that drinking white wine may improve lung function.

What's a semi-health conscious consumer to do?

Well, I, for one, am not going to let a bunch of nerds in white lab coats - funded by the dairy, egg or soyfood industry - tell me what I should or should not put in my body.

I will, however, take this new coffee study to heart. I'm not convinced that I'll live longer, but I'm really enjoying this new level of alertness. I've got all kinds of energy and, the other night, I actually stayed awake through "The Daily Show."

Best of all, I cranked out this column in 50 seconds flat!

- Cathy Hamilton is editor of and a 52-year-old empty-nester. Events recounted here may be embellished, exaggerated or completely made up because she can't remember squat anymore.


davidsmom 9 years, 8 months ago

My husband and I grew up on white bread, Tang, Velveeta, whole milk, etc. It's amazing we lived to tell about it. I agree 100% with Cathy on the medical research merry-go-round. If you don't like the latest recommendations from the medical community, wait six months or a year and it'll change. And I've never understood why on earth they publish "results" of a single study. That means absolutely nothing.

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