Want happiness on the job? Try medical research

opinions

March 2, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Looking for good news? Forget Washington and read up on the latest advances in medical science.
Statin drugs, such as Lipitor, work.
The proportion of American adults with high LDL — “bad” — cholesterol has dropped an amazing 33 percent over the past 11 years, from 31 percent in 1999 to less than 21 percent. Having fat in the arteries isn’t “natural,” isn’t irreversible.
Those who have the lowest LDL numbers are, no surprise, those who take statin drugs, exercise and have high-fiber, low-fat diets. The people who meet those criteria tend to be in the middle- and upper-income brackets. And that’s a switch.
In granddad’s day, the working poor had cleaner arteries and the well-to-do died early of heart disease and diabetes.
Now, why the shift?
Today the monied class is also the health-conscious class. Those who can afford health insurance and optional, but expensive, drugs such as Lipitor and the other statins, also have doctors who tell them to eat less, exercise more and pay particular attention to their waistlines.
Taking statins helps and there are added benefits. In addition to lowering artery-clogging cholesterol, statins reduce the likelihood that a person will develop painful gallstones which require surgery to remove. Gallstones, medical research discovered, consist primarily of cholesterol.
The working poor in the pre-World War II days were very likely to earn their livings at manual labor. Digging ditches, doing housework, baling hay used calories by the thousands — and provided cardio-vascular exercise that kept workers strong, spare and healthy. Because they could afford to, the rich sat around and got fat on prime rib, potatoes and deep dish apple pie.
Today, most of the ditch digging is done with back-hoes. Appliances have taken much of the work out of housework. And the groceries that those at the lower end of the scale buy tend to be full of fats and sugars. So some low-wage folks put on dangerous weight and don’t counter-balance their bad diets by keeping their bodies in motion.
GOOD NEWS tidbit number two: unsweetened black coffee has approximately zero calories. Ditto for straight shots of tea, hot or iced.
In contrast, go into a Dunkin’ Donuts, order a 32-ounce Vanilla Bean Coolatta, and pour down 860 calories, created primarily by 172 grams of sugar. One teaspoon of sugar contains 4.2 grams, so that cuppa has the equivalent of 41 teaspoons — a full 7⁄8 of a cup — of sugar.
At this point, remind yourself that an adult who earns his or her living doing light work on-ly needs a daily diet of 1,500 calories — but downing two Coolattas wouldn’t satisfy your hunger. Drink your coffee and tea straight-up; get the calories you need from real food.
What’s more, a massive study involving 450,000 people discovered that those who drink three to four cups of black coffee a day are 25 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The risk dropped for tea drinkers, too.

SECOND HAND smoke may increase the risk of breast cancer, a study of 57,000 women in California discovered. So Kansas women will be less likely to succumb to that dreadful disease in the future because the 2010 Kansas Legislature finally acted to ban smoking in most public places. Give all the credit to medical researchers. If studies such as the one in California had not been made, the air in Kansas restaurants, bars and office buildings would have remained forever blue.
The death rate from colon cancer continues to fall and researchers estimate it will be half of past rates if the trend continues to 2020, which is only a decade away. Why? Again because tobacco use continues to drop, more and more Americans learn they have the cancer early enough to cure it and the public is paying attention to advice on diets and lifestyles.
HAVE A CHILD who can’t decide on a career? Guide him or her into scientific research or any health care occupation so they can end each working day comforted by the knowledge they are making a solid contribution to the betterment of their fellow human beings.
Now, that’s a living wage.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.

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