First it was smoking (then asbestos and DDT) and now charcoal grilling. One after another, life’s little pleasures are yanked from us by their statistical associations with increased cancer risk.
By now everyone’s heard about the significant connection between colorectal cancer and regular consumption of red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and processed meats (bacon, ham, sausages, cold cuts, hot dogs).
Ever since 2009, when that guy smuggled plastic explosives in his Jockey shorts and tried to blow up a plane on its way to Detroit, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been pushing for full-body scanners at all airports.
Between the print and TV ads and the pop-ups scuttling like mice from the four borders of your computer screen, belly fat seems to have surpassed global warming as our next great anxiety.
It’s clear these ads are aimed at women, some of whom fall for the hucksterism of what is for many little more than an annoying physiologic change occurring during a perfect storm of dietary indiscretion, genetic predisposition, and stress. As one patient laconically remarked, “My divorce from hell took a solid year. I finally got rid of him, but in the process…” (patting her tummy with both hands) “I got myself…this!”
Last week, pocket calculator panting from exhaustion, I explained how my humble pen, along with the pens of the other 899,999 physicians in America, was responsible for paying out about $2.24 trillion every year to thousands of health care “providers.” That’s the amount the US spends annually on our essentially mediocre healthcare system.