The good, the bad and the disappointing

Published 5:19am Sunday, August 18, 2013

I tried several times to watch the Perseids meteor shower last week, but had absolutely no luck. I went out at varying times over the course of the two or three nights/early mornings that were supposed to be the best viewing times, but I obviously wasn’t meant to see this year’s light show.
I think the problem can be traced to the fact that I have so many neighbors who have security lights now – multiple, large, bright security lights. It was definitely disappointing. Maybe next year I can find a nice, dark spot somewhere to try to watch.
But I’m not disappointed that the usual “dog days” haven’t materialized. I can’t remember a cooler, wetter summer. And for the high Thursday to have only been in the 70s was a real surprise. It is mid-August after all.
The debate over coffee’s health risks continues to brew. A new study, out Thursday, finds that heavy coffee consumption is associated with a higher death risk in men and women younger than 55.
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On a note totally unrelated to weather and sky phenomenons, I heard two reports Friday about things researchers say are even worse for folks than previously guessed.
One recent study concluded that men and women younger than 55 who drink more than four cups of coffee (6-8 ounces) a day are more likely to die from any cause. Men are 56 percent more likely to die and women are twice as likely to die. The study used data on nearly 44,000 people from 20-87 years old, spanning a time frame from 1971 to 2002.
Oddly, the study reports that three cups of coffee a day doesn’t appear to increase risk – and even the four cups did not increase risk for those older than 55.
The study is the most recent salvo in a battle over whether coffee is good or bad for people. On one side, its caffeine content can raise heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels; on the other side, it is chock-full of antioxidants.
But a study last year found that coffee drinkers 50-71 had a lower risk of death than their peers who didn’t drink coffee. In fact that research reported that the more coffee a person drank the more their death risk declined.
Seems like there’s no conclusive proof either way.
Also on the what’s really bad for you list: There’s a new report that deaths associated with people being overweight are actually four times higher than what’s been suggested previously.
According to that report 18.2 percent of premature deaths in the U.S. between 1986 and 2006 were tied to excess body mass. Previous estimates were at 5 percent.
Supposedly the data hasn’t changed, just the filters applied to it. The study says women are more affected than men with weight-related early mortality at 21.7 percent for white women and 26.8 percent for black women.
The report says premature deaths related to obesity is at 15.6 percent for white men and 5 percent for black men.
Like the study on coffee, there are those who disagree with the most recent findings.
I don’t doubt that too much coffee, food or anything else can be bad for you. Just as too little exercise or too little relaxation time can be bad.
I’m not sure all this research is telling us anything we don’t already know.
Until next week …

Peggy Blackburn is managing editor of The Wetumpka Her­ald and Elmore County Weekend. She can be reached at 334-567-7811. Her email address is peggy.blackburn@TheWetumpkaHerald.com.

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