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BREAKING NEWS: Being alive increases chances of death

27 Jun

Greetings loyal readers!  It is time for me to explain my extremely cryptic title.  Sorry, unfortunately this is not a joke….By being alive, you increase your chances of dying.   This is my attempt to digest the alarming trend in health related news that I have noticed and my attempt to explain it.  Now these stories spark the interest of the average reader because they seem simple enough, person X didn’t know what that swelling in the back of their throat was.  Oh it’s nothing, just let it go.  Get’s larger, cold drugs don’t work.  They decide to see a doctor and BAM cockroach in the throat!..Wait that was an urban legend?  But it didn’t stop the news media from writing about it, did it?

For you see, this area of news reporting is very easy to mistake for completely legitimate.  They consult with doctors, they bring real cases, and they can do some real good by alerting people to take better care of themselves.  Hell we only need to glance at the obesity rate to realize that we are killing ourselves with food.  But just because Sanjay Gupta sounds legitimate every time, it doesn’t mean he’s not trying to serve you up a nice steaming pile of sensationalist crap (Not to pick on Dr. Gupta persay, he just happens to be a figure I’d assume you’d all recognize).  But let’s get started, shall we?

Not Sanjay Gupta

Dr. Gupta wrote an article praising a study about how to live to 100.  Very interesting tag line “Live to 100 years old.”  Who wouldn’t want to do that?  Well, me for one…but that has more to do with a fear of adult diapers and a hatred of needles, which seem impossible to avoid at that age.  But the article points out all the little things that we can do to increase our lifespan.  Flossing adds a year, a 5-day work week adds a year and a half,  and I will say I tried really hard to complete this survey thing but I am suspicious of anything that asks for my zip code.  I did take a look at the framework and its pretty simple (+1/-1).

Subtract 4 years from life expectancy

So you can add yourself up a pretty nice lifespan or you could end up dead.  Phrasing things this way can make people think that something such as life expectancy is so easy to control.  If go on a +30 years vegetarian diet and get hit by a bus, well shit that was a waste of time.  Not to be crass but this ultimately is a method to gauge your overall health and you shouldn’t try to sensationalize it by making it seem so concrete.  Do I think making some of the changes would be beneficial to the average person?  Yes.  Do I think you’re going to be able to pin point that flossing was the reason you checked out at 87 instead of 85?  Probably not.  But we can’t phrase it in general terms can we?  That’s not interesting!  Let’s go for another fun one.

This guy is clearly anxious

Sitting. Television.  For those of you rubes who were unaware, you are 18% more likely to die early if you watch a lot of television and 40% more likely to die prematurely if you sit a lot versus not sitting a lot.  Holy shit we are pretty much fucked, right?  I mean these are the big changes.  Yeah you could floss but your job has you sit 8 hours a day! Not to mention going home and sitting watching television.  We call that the death double team.  Now you have to choose either dying from sitting on your fat ass all day or living and starving to death standing around to be unemployed.  Quite the dilemma.  And as you read on, the author mentions heart disease and other obesity related maladies.  Hmm it couldn’t be that people who lead largely sedentary lifestyles are more likely to develop health problems that could lead to their premature death, could it?  The guy sitting on his couch 8 hours after 8 at work is probably also the guy who orders an entire pizza for dinner, but, no….that sounds reasonable.  No one would bother to read that.  Oh and thanks for just tossing in the whole “men are 20% more likely to die than women.”  Which happens to be a running theme of these articles.

What's the betting this has something to do with it?

Yes, many of these writers correctly ascertain that men are not the normal demographic of these pieces.  Clearly, they realize we just don’t care if that fourth beer is signing our own death warrant, you’re not going to change us.  But what if you scared the women around us into putting pressure on us?  For you see, these articles all ways refer to us as “men” or “your man”; while women are addressed as “you.”  And here is what women are being told about us.  Just take a minute to drink it all in.  It’s quite fantastic.  You can’t be tired, because you have sleep apnea!  Pain in your stomach?  Kidney stone or tumor.  Shitting blood?  It’s wasn’t those 35 hot wings you ate; you’ve got bladder cancer….or tumors.  In fact, that seems to be the running theme of this article: If its not 100% functioning, go to the doctor because you might be dying from cancer and/or tumors.  You turned a well intentioned article about getting persistent medical problems checked out into HOLY FUCKING SHIT GET TO YOUR DOCTOR DO YOU KNOW HOW FUCKED YOU ARE!??!?!?!!?  And we take a moment to ask, why?  Because it sounds more interesting when you do it that way, and god forbid the author didn’t get any attention.  And when authors do this, they tend to create panic and make people worry about things that are really in their heads.

It’s like the guy who goes on WebMD and diagnosis himself correctly.  For every one of those, I bet there are at least 10 hypochondriacs climbing up the wall for no reason.  Take the 10PM news caster that leads in with, “There’s a rapist in your area are you safe?”  Yeah, it might be scary, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the normal precautions that you usually do for your safety.  The world’s a scary place but you don’t need to freak out about every little terrible thing that is occurring or that COULD occur.  I wouldn’t need to get agitated about it if stories like this weren’t posted ALL.  OVER.  THE. WEB.  To be fair this list of things killing men is actually wrong.  It should read 5. Beer 4.Beef and Bacon 3. Women 2. Unexpected cleavage 1. and sensationalist reporters who could barely pass as high school “journalists.”  But I digress.

These medical journalists can probably help a lot of people out by passing along information about eating right and exercising.  That’s good.  But if you’re going to start blowing things our of proportion to get our attention about how we live our lives, well that just makes you a dick.

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