July 22, 2009

Oh Goody, a New Health Horror!

Important Legal Disclaimer: there are no actual Zombie-Prevention tips in this post. You will still be at the same risk level for Zombie attack after reading the Other Important Health Warnings below. Plan accordingly.

So as longtime Cranky Fitness readers may have noticed, I have a love/hate relationship with health studies. But one thing I always love about them, even when I'm busy hating them, is that they give me something to write about. Hooray for actual health-related subjects!

Fortunately, while I was busy taking a break from serious health reporting in order to frolic with friends, the Research Factories did not shut down and stop production. In fact, a bright shiny Annoying Study came off the assembly line recently just made to order for Cranky Fitness!

But rather than just whine about the study and warn you about the awful health hazard that's going to give you a bunch of horrible fatal diseases, wanna have a little fun with it? How about we look at this latest warning as sort of a personality test. A Research Rorschach, if you will.

Test? What test? You mean not everyone sees two
pesky beavers pulling on a skeleton-lady's pigtails?

Here's The Research.

According to a report in Medical News Today, a new study found "a substantial link" between the nitrates, nitrites and nitrosamines we ingest, and death rates from scary diseases like Alzheimer's, diabetes, and Parkinson's. The authors said, "not only do we consume them in processed foods, but they get into our food supply by leeching from the soil and contaminating water supplies used for crop irrigation, food processing and drinking."

According to the article, nitrites and nitrates are generally carcinogenic, and are found in lots of foods, like cured meats, cheese, beer and water.

So What's Your Reaction?

Don't worry, it's just a one question personality test.

After reading this study:

a. I am now going to drink only water that's purified and tested for nitrates, nitrites, and nitrosamines. I gave up processed foods long ago, but now I'm going to stop buying produce from any source that does not have data on the purity of its water supply, even if it means I have to live solely on beets and alfalfa sprouts and rutabagas grown in my own basement.

b. I don't give a crap. Nitrates, schmytrates, we're all gonna die someday. Pass the bacon!

c. I'm really afraid of Alzheimer's and those other diseases so I'm going to stay up all night worrying about this. And the next night. And probably the next too, unless I read some other study that's even worse. But how can I not panic about this if the poison is already in our water supply? We're all doomed! Doomed!

d. I already try to limit my intake of processed foods. But if I see more studies like this, perhaps I'll try to investigate the safety of my local water supply and consider a filtration system or bottled alternative if it turns out it's especially funky. Otherwise, there's not much I can do!

e. What kind of a horsesh*t study is this? I clicked on the link and looked at the methodology. They looked at the timelines for increase in fertilizer use, and the increasing death rates, and then concluded that there's a cause and effect relationship? Aren't there a million other lifestyle changes during this period that could also be responsible?

f. Nitrates? Did you just say something about nitrates? I thought this was supposed to be about Zombies.

What's Your Coping Style for dealing with Annoying Research?

Note: it is quite possible to combine strategies, so you may have more than one answer.

If you answered a, you may be an Extreme Health Activist! To prevent anxiety and/or premature death, you do every freakin' thing you can think of to limit your health risks. Upside: to the extent these studies are right, you may actually live longer. Downside: with all the time-consuming, pain-in-the-ass precautions you take, you need extra years just to come out even!

If you answered b, you may be a Devil-May-Care Hedonist! To prevent Annoying Health studies from spoiling your fun, you just ignore them. Who cares what a bunch of bespectacled lab geeks say is good or bad for you? Upside: Fun! Fun! Fun! Downside: sometimes, the studies all say the same things and if you ignore them you may croak early.

If you answered c, you may be a Professional Worrier. It's not that you enjoy worrying exactly, but it's such a natural state you prefer to freak yourself out rather than take concrete action to minimize your risks. Upside: Well, not a whole lot, but it's treatable! See your local shrink or consult an anxiety self-help book. Downside: Worrying about your health is actually bad for your health. Which will make you worry more about your health which will...

If you answered d you may be a Lifestyle Pragmatist. You do what you can to minimize risks, but you're not going to spend a whole lot of time panicking over things you can't control. Upside: you maintain a good balance between virtue and Fun. Downside: You will rarely be a Trendsetter or an Amusing Nutball, and thus might never get your 15 minutes on Jerry Springer or Oprah.

If you answered e you may be a Perennial Research Skeptic. (D's and E's frequently occur together). You don't take the conclusion of a study or an "expert" seriously until you have some notion of how reliable the underlying data is. You may or may not have any clue what makes for reliable data (and may even think a peer-reviewed journal is something fisherman read), but you do know that you can't believe everything you read. Upside: less likely to worry about bogus health hazards. Downside: often over-analytical and kinda tedious at cocktail parties.

If you answered f you are... Normal! What are you doing reading Cranky Fitness? Instead of boring health news, you could be finding out which movie stars are cheating on each other and what Michelle Obama was wearing last night!

What's your coping style? Worried about nitrosamines or zombies attacks or do you take it all in stride?


  1. I'm probably a D (as in my cup-size). I don't eat anything containing those chemicals and I filter my water. That should be okay!

    For a long time the question about nitrites and nitrates hasn't been whether they cause cancer, but HOW MUCH cancer they cause. But if you're going to lose your mind to boot, you may not really care!
    You'll just become a pickled zombie!

  2. I'm a D with A-like tendencies. I have read about the hazards of nitrates for years, and when we do have bacon, I buy the "nitrate free" variety.

    A family member that practically lives off of processed meat has a very nasty scar on his head from the large tumor that was removed. I have always wondered if there is a connection.

  3. I am an E (but not my cup size) and a bit of F (sure as hell not my cup size).

    I have never met a "trite" I could trust.

  4. The poison is always in the dosage. Moderation and we'll all be fine.

  5. I love reading your posts! Damn, I wanted some zombies!!!!

    I am #d but no where near a D cup... I would take a B cup & feel good about that! :-)

    I have a PUR filter on my faucet & eat pretty well overall so I try not to get into the minutia of all this. I pay attention, read & make changes as I see fit BUT People get cancer for no reason or hit by a car or whatever so I just do the best I can, enjoy when I want & go from there.

    Thx for the funny this morn Crabby!

  6. Can't I just be an amusing nutball and leave my cup size out of it?

  7. I would say I'm a D. I try to be sensible and make healthy choices (most of the time) but I would like to be able to enjoy life a bit and not spend all my time growing beets (ew!) in my basement.

  8. Cool, I like multiple-choice posts! I choose F - because my husband is in public health and he worries and fact-checks enough for the both of us.

    Blissfully Unaware :)

  9. I'm a filtered (but not bottled) water gal, and I try to eat/cook as healthy as my budget allows.

    Also, it's clearly an old clipper ship being attacked by sea-bears. Pfft.

  10. "or an Amusing Nutball"
    There goes that dream.

  11. I run the study through my 12 years of medical and scientific studies, inspect it with my advanced graduate degrees, and if still unsure, flip a coin until I like the result :-)

  12. I was hoping more on F, but I guess I'll have to look at another site ;) They have whole sites and forums for that, so I guess since you ususally do health stuff I'll be ok.

    I'm more towards e with a little d thrown in sometimes. I haven't read the research though and probably won't. There are just too many confounds to really make sense of it.

    I sat in on a talk about how they're also finding a cardiovascular link to AD, but that was preliminary as well. I think it's like breast cancer...theres too many hereditary and environmental aspects (and, really, too many variations) to really pin point one factor.

  13. I'm perfectly content to not be on Oprah...or Jerry springer :)

  14. Hmmm.. I vacillate between A, C, and E. But I'm TRYING to get to normal. What - no category for just crazy?? ;)

  15. Sea bears, I love it!

    So I think of myself as a D & E type, but I've definitely got a little A too--we already have an big-ass expensive under-the-counter water filter which we put in when we realized we were moving to yet another location that was part of a cancer cluster. (I grew up in one too). It's a multipure and cost hundreds, but it filters out all kinds of toxic crap.

    Cup size shall perhaps wait for a future post... I think I'm due for a running bra post sometime this summer.

  16. My response is to check the turkey bacon currently sizzling in my pan and ask myself what they mean by "no nitrates ADDED." What the heck kind of cagey language is that? These are (based on their cost) gently reared turkeys fed organic blueberries and never given a cross word in their lives, so I have to hope that they are not coming by nitrates somewhere off the farm, like the local bar. The things you have to worry about these days.

    Am I Really That Fat? (because I can! Thanks, Cranky Fitness!)

  17. Feed processed lunchmeat and beer to the zombies. In the short-term, they'll be too sluggish to chase you and in the long term, they won't remember why they wanted to chase you in the first place. Problem solved.

    Of course, with our luck, the zombies will apply for disability because they're too out-of-shape/sleepy/zonked to work, and our tax dollars will go to support them.

  18. All his talk of nitrates just makes me want to buy more beer. Maybe I'll try Michelob Nitrates next time. It's supposed to be better than Ultra.

  19. I'm gonna go with bfd!

    And if chickens can scrabble then give those turkeys a crossword, I say.

    Oh, I get it now, the bacon can turn you into a zombie!

    My first post, I've been secretly admiring your crankyness for some time...

  20. We've watched so many Zombie movies that the Husband actually created a Zombie Action Plan in case of attack, including different tactics for various types - living dead, the HAZMAT infected, viral strains, etc. And unfortunately, I'm serious.

  21. Much like my academic career, I reside primarily in the D - F region.

  22. Welcome, Dash, I love when folks de-lurk!

    And oh my goodness, Cranky Fitness commenters are in fine form this morning. You are totally hilarious!

  23. Zombies? Nitrate/ites? Huh?

    I'm going for Dr. J's approach. Minus the part of all that education.

  24. I choose "F" and still wonder where the zombie info is. :) Truth be told I'm more of a "B" person, hold the bacon. I try to eat as healthy as possible but overall we're all going to die someday so why stress over every last article? That's just my thoughts. Great post and interesting article! Welcome back from hiatus!

  25. I'm going with F with a side of D & E, as I'm working on my goal of being an amusing nutball when I grow up! (wv = bente, so maybe there's hope!) Trying to follow all the advice to avoid cancer is pointless - I was completely blindsided by a CA dx 10 years after I'd done what I could to clean up my (eating & lifestyle) act - that wasn't supposed to happen to me! (So there's some completion here, that was 11 years ago & I'm fine so far.) et

  26. Hahaha Damn, I thought the post was going towards deciding that the research hasn't been going on long enough and speculating that all the nitrates will eventually turn everyone into zombies. Then you have to spend the rest of the afternoon pondering if you want to turn into A), which results in you having to fend off zombies and hopefully survive or B)type, becoming the first zombie so you don't have to live through those first days of terror.

  27. I was D/E - mostly because I know guns are useless against zombies.

  28. You're absolutely right. If we listened to all the reports, we'd eventually cross off every single item that we could possibly eat or drink.

    Plus, Science is getting nowhere on the sugar-free, fat-free malted milk ball I've been clamoring for...

  29. "I am now going to drink only water that's purified and tested for nitrates, nitrites, and nitrosamines"

    All drinking water that is treated is tested for this...well in Canada anyways. When I worked in a water lab we had to test this. This is why peoples with wells on tehir property need to get them checked regularly...too much nitrates/nuitrites can be bad for your neural system, especially little peoples.
    The study is pretty vague tho - it's not controlled and there's a whole lotta reasons why things could happen besides what they concluded...
    As an amusing nutball, I think it's best to just be on the alert for zombies byself...:)

  30. YAY health horrors!

    One of these days my skepticism about studies is going to take over my happy health-mindedness and I'm going to say "screw it pass the bacon-wrapped cheeseburger".

    PS Hanlie I heart you... "pickled zombie".

  31. dragonmamma/naomiJuly 22, 2009 at 12:33 PM

    I'm a Z.

    I believe that general physical preparedness and cross-training is crucial for a Zombie Survival Plan.

    If confronted by the old-fashioned, shambling zombies, you need good upper body strength and endurance to swing your shovel (or sledgehammer, or bat) at the swarming hordes.

    In case of a "fast zombie" scenario, you need good sprinting and climbing skills. Parkour training or mixed-martial arts would both be quite useful.

  32. I'm the first sentence of D, but I'm fed up stressing. You can find a study to stop you from doing/eating/thinking anything. Life is dangerous, let's all just die to protect ourselves!

    In the zombie department, we are fortunate to have a son who has his very own copy of the zombie survival guide. I defer to him for zombie fighting tips and strategies.

  33. I have no effing clue. So I'm probably an f?

  34. I'm not amusing? Well fine then, I'll just go get run over by a bus - or eaten by zombies, which ever happens first.

  35. I'm sad you think normal is only caring about fashion and celebrities. I was a D with a hint of E. :-)
    Anyway, speaking of normal and fitness and vapid things and whatnot, do you have an opinion about that reality show of plus-sized women (More to Love, I think)? I keep seeing advertising about it and the commercial starts off by saying that the average reality show contestant is a size 2 and the average American woman is a 14/16 and then has a lot of obese/overweight women talking about how they're normal women.
    a) Of course we know media's portrayal of women is crazy and one shouldn't expect everyone or even most women to actually be a size 2, but
    b) A size 14/16? Really? So we're saying the average American woman is overweight or obese. No surprise, but I don't think it's a good thing.
    c) Yes, I would prefer to be overweight and healthy rather than "skinny fat" or underweight or anything else, but I would still strive for a healthy BMI.
    d) I don't think society ought to be obsessed with weight one way or the other and of course we shouldn't judge people for being overweight, but it doesn't do the health of Americans much good to advocate unhealthy lifestyles either.
    My long 2 cents.

  36. Just found your blog. Hysterical. Like another commentor I am sooo happy to have zero minutes of fame. I would however, love to be a nutball. Thanks for breaking it down for us.

  37. Ah so that's where I've been going wrong at all those cocktail parties.

  38. I think I'm a d. I've been drinking filtered water for many years, because tap water Tastes Bad. On the other hand I eat a lot of cheese because it Tastes Good.
    Other aspects of my lifestyle, however, may make me an Amusing Nutball

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  39. D. - Yep, you'll never see me on Oprah. I'm an unamusing nutball -- just ask my SO.


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