The Daily Bongo

First Smoking, Now Food

So were you one of the people who supported the no smoking bans in restaurants and other public places? Did you ever think when you were on the no smoking bandwagon that there might be far reaching consequences and that you were starting the slide down the slippery slope? Well, we are starting to see the further slide down the slope with the news that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene wants restaurants to "voluntarily" stop using trans fatty oils when making foods. I put the voluntarily in quotes because you know that we are just a smidge away from hearing "because if you don't, we will make you later on". What does this have to do with the smoking law you say? You like going to places where there isn't smoke in your face, and besides everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health and that even second hand smoke will kill you. The thing is that I'm not so sure--especially about the second hand part of it. Also, I'm not very eager to have any government deciding for me what is good for me. If I want to do something that is bad for me, it's not the government's business. Big Brother (not the show on CBS) needs to get out of my life.

I can hear you now--how can anyone question whether smoking is bad for you? Don't we hear about smokers dying from lung cancer every day? Yes, 85 to 90% of the people who get lung cancer were smokers. That means that 10 to 15% weren't, and it came from other sources. Take Dana Reeve for example. She wasn't a smoker, and yet she developed lung cancer. Ah, you say, everyone who smokes is going to get lung cancer. Again research proves that wrong. Only 10% of lifetime smokers develop lung cancer. As for emphysema, 15 to 20% of smokers develop it. That doesn't mean everyone should run out and start smoking. It just means that it is for you to determine if you want to run the risk, not the government. If you are a smoker, you are treated like a criminal. You have to skulk around with your cigarette making sure to keep yards away from any open doorway. You are given dirty looks as you smoke as if you are taking a knife to the non-smoker next to you and threatening to slit his throat.

Now the life control police are gunning for food. We get "documentaries" thrown at us that show some bozo who scarfs down the worst of McDonald's food three times a day for 30 days. The bozo's only form of exercise is lifting the Big Mac to his mouth. After 30 days, he's not feeling too good, and his health is showing signs of deteriorating. Dah! If you don't know that eating at burgers and fries at McDonald's exclusively is bad for your health, you really are stupid and should eat yourself into an early grave, hopefully before you procreate. Yes, eating fatty foods to excess is bad for you. Eating any one thing to excess is bad for you. Lettuce is a good healthy food. Eat nothing but lettuce, and you won't be feeling too good. Now the food demon is trans fatty acids. This is the thing that has the "potential" (note the quotes again) to raise cholesterol levels and might cause plaque buildup in the arteries. I (and the researchers) say potential because I don't think that doctors and researchers really understand the cholesterol/heart disease link as well as they think they do. Yes, having high cholesterol can be bad. I can't find any statistics on how many people who have high cholesterol wind up having a heart attack, but when I asked my doctor about it, he said that high cholesterol is only one of the components that should be looked at for heart attack risk. After all, there are people who have heart attacks who have exercised religiously, eaten the right foods, and had a low cholesterol level. There are also people who eat the right foods and can't lower a high cholesterol level. What does it all mean? It means that we understand some things, but don't have the whole picture. Being human, however, we jump to conclusions. Should you eat alot of trans fatty acids? No. Will eating it periodically kill you? Again, I would say the answer is probably not.

The decision should be mine to make. If I want to eat a piece of cheesecake, it's my business. It shouldn't be the business of the chef at the restaurant, and most definitely shouldn't be my elected representative's business. He should concern himself with things that really matter, like why my taxes are so high, why repeat offenders find their way back to the street so easily, why the streets are in bad shape, why the price of gas goes spiraling upward, etc, etc. What I choose to eat or not eat is not his business. Inform me. Let me know about trans fatty acids and the risks that may be associated with them. Then let me decide. That's the way things work in a free country. Give me the freedom to choose a piece of caramel cheesecake. After all, the only person that I risk killing is myself.

August 20, 2005