Scientific studies found to cause health problems


March 01, 1993|By MIKE ROYKO

The day had hardly begun when half a dozen gloom-spreading co-workers asked if I had seen the latest scare story from the medical world. They thought it would be of special interest to me.

By now, you've probably heard the report because it's one of those short items that are perfect ear-grabbers for radio and TV news shows and take little space in a newspaper.

But if you missed it, here is the latest jolt of health terror.

It appears that really bald guys under the age of 55 are four times more likely to have heart attacks than men who have hairy skulls. Or so some doctors claim in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Those who have mild baldness are still more likely to keel over, but in fewer numbers. Those with only a receding hairline are in no greater danger than the mop tops.

Why should baldness have anything to do with heart attacks? The doctors say it might have something to do with male hormones, but they aren't sure.

Of course they aren't sure. Whenever they come out with one of these reports, they're never sure why. They just toss out some statistics, scare the hell out of a few million men, then go off to poke and probe another sample group.

Maybe next week it will have something to do with the relationship between flat feet and suicide or small chins and choking to death on hot dogs.

Besides, this latest report doesn't apply to me. True, I do have a tendency toward not having much hair atop my head. But this report has to do with men under 55, a sorrowful birthday I've already drowned.

At least, I assume it doesn't apply to men over 55. Or maybe they just didn't ask, figuring we're going to croak from something or other anyway, so why bother?

Or maybe they asked some older guys and were told: "Mind your own damned business. I'm sick of hearing about your stupid studies."

Most older guys feel that way. We were in our 30s when the medical world started this binge of telling us what not to eat, drink or do.

It started with eggs, bacon, butter and most other dairy products. That led to steaks, pork chops, ribs and anything else that might taste good.

Don't smoke. Don't drink. Wait, you can drink. But only one or two glasses of wine because another study showed that could be good for the heart.

Then they said jog, run, get that heart pumping. But when thousands of people started getting gimpy knees and feet, they said stop running. Just walk fast.

And like a fool, I listened to them. No, I didn't stop smoking, drinking or eating the allegedly deadly foods of my choice. Nor did I run, unless trying to leg out a double in a softball game or being chased by muggers.

But I listened. And all that did was make me feel guilty for not striving for physical perfection. The guilt, in turn, brought on stress, which will probably shorten my life more than fried eggs and bacon.

Now I no longer listen. When I see a headline that says: "Medical findings say men who slouch have . . ." I turn the page. I don't care what their findings are. Will slouching turn me into a troll or a gnome? I don't care.

Ever since I declared my emancipation from science-induced fear and dread, I can take one of my irregular physicals and my conversation with the doc now goes something like this:

"Hmmmm, your weight. Since the last time you were here, it appears that you have gained . . ."

"Oh, shut up. You could use a little meat on your scrawny bones. You wouldn't last 30 seconds in a barroom brawl."

"About your blood pressure, it is . . ."

"Stuff it. If my blood pressure is up, it's because I had to sit in your waiting room 25 minutes past my appointment reading dull magazines that are two years old. It's that sort of indifference that will bring on socialized medicine, so blame yourself."

"Now, the lab reports aren't what I'd like to see. Your cholesterol . . ."

"Lab reports? I almost didn't survive your lab. That blind woman with the needle stabbed me six times before she found a vein. If it happens again, I'll not only sue you for malpractice, mispractice and non-practice, but I'll bring a criminal complaint for assault with intent to kill."

"About the smoking . . ."

"I'll tell you about the smoking. I wouldn't accept an invitation to the White House even if Hillary hadn't banned the weed. Who'd want to sit around and talk to a bunch of policy wonks anyway?"

"And the liquor intake . . ."

"What a mope. You don't intake liquor. You drink it."

"Other than that . . ."

" Give me the bill. I want to go get a pork shank and a beer."

One of these days, I'm going to go public with my scientific study.

It has to do with doctors secretly buying up all the chicken and turkey farms, fishing boats, and controlling interests in the companies that make jogging shoes.

Is that true? Well, probably as true as bald guys getting more heart attacks.

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