Three stories on September 16 (2002) may demonstrate the devil's frustration over the improved lifestyle choices many Americans attempt to adopt. And at the same time he reinforces the lifestyle of couch potato resistants to better lifestyles. All of the following headlines appeared on pages 3 days ago.

Beer May Boost 'Good' Cholesterol in Older Women - Read

Cigarettes, Coffee Tied to Lower Parkinson's Risk - Read

Wine Drinking Linked to Lower Lymphoma Risk - Read

The links from yahoo news pages usually expire so you may soon be unable to read this stories.
So I'll briefly quote...

"Moderate beer consumption appears to raise levels of "good" cholesterol ... and may decrease their risk of heart disease." The study showed HDL levels rising an average of 12% after three weeks when men drank 4 bears with dinner and women three. "Research has shown that increasing HDL by just 2% can lower the risk of heart disease."

Original source: Alcololism: Clinical and Experimental Research 2002;26:1430-1435.

Another study showed "a 60% lower risk of [Parkinson's disease] among current smokers." "Previous smokers were also protected, although less so than current smokers."

And "drinking coffee was associated with a 30% lower risk of [Parkinson's disease]", each cup lowering the likelihood of having Parkinson's by 10%, more so for women than for men. The researchers conclude that neither smoking or coffee alone protect against Parkinson's but the headline is grabbing and not disputed.

Original source: Annals of Neurology 2002;52:261-262, 276-287.

Finally, in regard to the wine story, the more the better. "Men who regularly drank ... one or more glasses of wine daily ... from the time they were teenagers had a more than threefold decrease in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma risk compared to nondrinkers. Among wine drinkers who started drinking at older ages, the protective effect against non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was less pronounced -- a 30% reduction." The story goes on to reject endorsement of underage
drinking and, since beer and spirits fail to protect, the study shows that alcohol itself doesn't protect. But clearly the consumer can apparently justify what many of us consider a poor lifestyle choice.

Original source: American Journal of Epidemiology 2002;156:454-462.

I imagine that the research that gets the most press is the research that reasures us in regard to our preferred habits. Confirmation that my established choices are good for me enable me to ignore other sound reasons to reform. And we're trapped. Any encouragement to change is that much easier to ignore.