Friday, October 5, 2007

Contradictory and Confusing Medical Advice

[For those of you who used to read my blog in its pre-Blogger incarnation, you may recognize today's article as a newer version of a previous article I wrote. Sorry if you feel cheated. I'll try to make it up to you in some way, at some point.]

Daily, we are bombarded with helpful health information. It comes at us in news snippets, on internet headlines, and in magazines. Often, however, it seems that health advice is contradictory and/or confusing. A new study has just confirmed that older studies discrediting previous studies were wrong about the previous studies. And so forth. Well, I know it's more complicated than that, but as a medical layperson, this is what it seems like to me. I don't know what to believe or what actions to take to improve my health. Seemingly everything causes cancer. Especially things that are enjoyable. And, media reports and headlines on "latest study" don't help matters as they are often misleading or inaccurate.

I know, it can be confusing. So, here is my layman's health guide*:

Wine is heart-healthy and rich in antioxidants. But, you should maybe only drink when you're older, and not when you're younger. This may increase the odds that you will enjoy the heart benefits of alcohol while not succumbing to alcohol-related accidents. But if you're going to drink you should drink red wine. And, you should have a glass of red wine every day, preferably as part of your Meditarranean diet.

Drink coffee. It is full of antioxidants and health benefits! And, it may be good for your liver if you drink coffee after drinking too much alcohol the night before. But don't drink coffee because it's bad for your heart! Your heart's not safe by switching to decaf either!

Eating fish provides essential omega fatty acids. Omegas may have a wide variety of health benefits. But, you better not eat fish because of all the mercury in them. Speaking of fish, you could have a fish or other food allergy that you are not aware of. But, before an allergic reaction will occur, you have to first have been exposed to the food you are allergic to. Once you have been sufficiently exposed to the food (ie- tricked into believeing you are not allergic) you will have an allergic reaction. Your throat may close up and you may die.

Chocolate can be good for your heart and release hormones. But, better not eat chocolate or you'll get fat- and being overweight has negative implications for your heart. Actually, scientists should probably just avoid telling Americans that chocolate has health benefits, as we have reached an obesity epidemic.

Oy! What's a person to do?!

*Not to be substituted for advice from a medical professional!

On a side, but not entirely unrelated, note. I really like dogs. Dogs are probably my second favorite animal. Monkeys being #1 and humans being #3.

After visiting the allergist, guess what I'm allergic to.


It's funny how over the past few years I had myself convinced that I was allergic to any one of a number of things, including: mold, ragweed, down, wheat, soy, beer, wine, smoke, perfume, fish, and milk.

Yet, dogs were right under my nose, and it didn't even cross my mind that even though my allergies kicked in right around the time I got my dog, that I would be allergic to dogs. Okay, I was probably avoiding thinking that.

So here's another health tip. Living with a dog can improve your quality of life. But living with a dog that you are allergic to may reduce your quality of life.

Dogs 0, Cats 2.

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