Thursday, July 25, 2013

Taking Medical Advice From the "Experts"

One of my very favorite activities is exposing hypocrites, phonies, charlatans, and snake oil salesmen.  I admit, I do take an almost perverse pleasure in exposing these money grubbing liars in our society.  For one thing, it is so easy to do.  Almost like shooting monkeys in a barrel.

One can hardly open a newspaper or look on the Internet to find the latest health "tip" to improve your health and increase your longevity to 100 plus years.  Go ahead, pick up a copy of USA Today today and you're sure to see the latest "breakthrough discovery" by an "expert".  It could be "drinking ten cups of coffee a day will increase prevent shingles" or "eating blueberries will help prevent impotence."  

It's always something folks with these so called "experts" spewing out their latest advice to a certain gullible segment of the Great Unwashed.  

Well, I'm not buying it folks.  Never have and never will.  Every time I hear of another one of these breakthrough claims I think of all the "experts" of the past who are dead.  Oops!  You said DEAD?  Oh yes, their survivors quickly come up the excuses why they died but the fact remains they died before their time in spite of their "expert" claims of knowing the secret of health and longevity.

I don't usually include the writing of others in my blog but this one time I will make an exception.  This is from:

By Melissa Breyer
Thu., Jan. 10, 2013

"We commonly hear stories of people whose health defies the odds: the chain-smoking grannies who live to 100, the skinny dudes who pack away unreasonable amounts of calories without gaining an ounce. But often it’s the reverse that prevails; the physically virtuous who drop dead way before their time. And it’s never more surprising than when such a fate befalls the very people have become famous for espousing good health.

With a life expectancy in the United States for males at 76.3 years and 81.1 years for females (according to the CDC), it’s confounding to discover so many diet gurus who have succumbed years ahead of the national average. And this isn’t to suggest that their practices and philosophies contributed to their deaths in any way — who's to say where nature tramples nurture, so to speak – but the irony is hard to deny. We don't suggest throwing in the towel on healthy eating based on the unfortunate deaths of the diet gurus listed here, but it does provide some food for thought."

James Fixx

The author of the 1977 runaway bestseller, "The Complete Book of Running," Fixx is often credited with starting the American running craze. Fixx ran 10 miles a day in addition to other vigorous exercise, and was described as being in fine physical condition by friends — yet he had a fatal heart attack at the age of 52 while jogging

near his home in Vermont. Although he showed no symptoms, autopsy results revealed that his left circumflex coronary artery was almost totally blocked. About 80 percent of the blood flow in his right coronary artery was blocked and half of the left anterior descending was blocked in places. Although he had a family history of heart disease, his problems had gone undiagnosed by a physician.

Michel Montignac

The famous French doctor originally developed the Montignac diet to help himself lose weight. The diet went on to become the backbone of his best-selling books and a chain of restaurants and stores promoting his nutritional regimen. His research focused on the glycemic index and the distinction between good and bad carbohydrates. (For example, whole grains are good; refined flour is bad.) His 1987 book, "Eat Yourself Slim," sold 17 million copies in several countries, and his work and theories were the inspiration behind the South Beach Diet. Montignac died of prostate cancer at the age of 66.

Nathan Pritikin

Perhaps the granddaddy of all diet gurus, few names are as associated with the health revolution as Nathan Pritikin. The inventor with a passion for nutrition and fitness was one of the first to
promote the connection between diet and heart disease, which in the 1970s was a surprisingly novel idea. His bestselling books, which promoted a low-fat diet, his media appearances and namesake longevity centers have been responsible for guiding many followers into good health. And although his diet and exercise regimens brought him into excellent cardiovascular health, they were not enough to combat the leukemia that ravaged his body; Pritikin committed suicide in his hospital bed at the age of 69.

Paavo Airola

The European born and based Airola was a nutritionist and naturopathic doctor with a background in biochemistry and natural healing. Airola promoted natural healing through a diet of nutritious, whole foods and holistic medicine. He lectured extensively across the globe and spent time as a visiting lecturer at prestigious universities including Stanford University Medical School. Airola served as president of the International Academy of Biological Medicine, and authored 14 books, two of which became international bestsellers. The American Academy of Public Affairs went as far as to issue Airola the Award of Merit for his book on arthritis. This brilliant man was felled by a stroke at the age of 64.

Robert Atkins

Creator of one of the world’s most famous diets, the Atkins Nutritional Approach, aka the Atkins Diet, Robert Atkins basically gave the okay for bacon lovers to pig out on all things protein, condemning carbohydrates to the hall of dietary shame. Dieters swore by the program and vegetarians shuddered. Meanwhile, Atkins himself was revealed after his death to have had a “history of serious heart problems including myocardial infarction (a heart attack), congestive heart failure and hypertension,” which has been suggested by some to lead to his death, caused by a fall on the ice. He died at the age of 72.

Robert E. Kowalski

The author of The New York Times best-selling book (which was on the list for a remarkable 115 weeks) "The NEW 8-Week Cholesterol Cure"
as well as "The 8-Week Cholesterol Cure Cookbook," "Cholesterol & Children," "8 Steps to a Healthy Heart," "The Type II Diabetes Diet Book" and "The Blood Pressure Cure: 8 Weeks to Lower Blood Pressure Without Prescription Drugs" died at the age of 65 from a pulmonary embolism.

Adelle Davis

Born in 1904, Adelle Davis, was one of the country’s best-known early nutritionists and contended that almost any disease could be prevented by proper diet. The visionary author penned four best-selling books: "Let’s Cook It Right," "Let’s Have Healthy Children," "Let’s Get Well" and "Let’s Eat Right To Keep Fit." Although she received criticism for some of her more far-out ideas, her enthusiasm for health food led her to become an early advocate for the need to exercise, the dangers of vitamin deficiencies as well as the need to avoid hydrogenated fat, saturated fat and excess sugar consumption — all of which remain standard guidelines today.

Davis succumbed to cancer at the age of 70.
While some consider her death premature based on the current national average, others say she lived a relatively long life for a woman born in 1904. She had maintained that cancer was a result of the inadequacies of the American diet, and upon discovering her illness, expressed hope that her diagnosis would not disappoint the many people who took her good advice to heart.

I am not receptive to medical advice from "experts."  I'll take medical advice about my condition but I don't take any medical advice from self-appointed "experts, be they doctors or snake oil salesmen.  

J. I. Rodale (birth name Jerome Irving Cohen) was one such health salesman who published a very successful magazine called "Prevention." 

Rodale died on while he was participating as a guest on the Dick Cavett show promoting his "healthy lifestyle" and magazine "Prevention" which made him and his family a lot of money (and still is I believe.)

The following is an accounting from Wikipedia of how and when Mr. Rodale died at age 71, younger than I am now.


Rodale died of a heart attack at the age of 72 while participating as a guest on The Dick Cavett Show. He was still on stage, having finished his interview, and was seated next to the active interviewee, New York Post columnist Pete Hamill. According to Cavett, Hamill noticed something was wrong with Rodale, leaned over to Cavett, and said, "This looks bad." According to others, Cavett asked, "Are we boring you, Mr. Rodale?". Cavett himself said that he "emphatically" did not recall saying this. Two interns rushed onto the stage to try and revive Rodale, but they were unsuccessful. The episode was never broadcast, although Cavett has described the story in public appearances and on his blog.

Rodale had bragged during his just-completed interview on the show that "I'm in such good health that I fell down a long flight of stairs yesterday and I laughed all the way", "I've decided to live to be a hundred", and "I never felt better in my life!" He had also previously bragged, "I'm going to live to be 100, unless I'm run down by some sugar-crazed taxi driver."

Note: Rodale's son Robert took over the family business and died, in a car accident during a business trip to Russia. Case closed.

Then there was John B. Kelly, Jr.  

Brother of Princess Grace and Olympic rower.  He used to jog on Kelly Drive in Philadelphia.  I often passed him on my bike when I drove the Kelly Drive loop.  John B. Kelly, Jr. died while jogging on Kelly Drive.  He was 57 years old.  Younger than I am now.

Just a few examples folks of the futility of trying to prevent death by living "fad" healthy.  Hey folks, we're all going to die of something.  Some of us sooner than others, some later. 

I think we've all pretty much figured out what healthy living is.  We don't need a Rodale or a spandexed jogger to illustrate to us what "healthy" is.  If you're a couch potato, heavy smoker and dope user, you're probably going to die an early death.  However, if you're even moderately active, eat in moderation, don't smoke, you're probably going to live a lot longer than your peers.  Of course there is always that chance of a Random Act of Fate and you're struck with a terminal illness.  Can't do much about that.  Count your blessings you've lived as long as you have and pray that your exit isn't too painful, humiliating or needy. 

Look folks, if you're lucky enough to have reached a reasonably advanced age without contracting some kind of fatal illness or injury by accident or design; I would pay only scant attention if any at all to these self appointed "experts."  Seems to me they had something to sell before reality caught up with them.  There might be a small amusement factor but that's about it.  However there is one guarantee, on tomorrow's news there is sure to be yet an another breathless news item about the latest food or dietry supplement to ingest or avoid to live a long and healthy life.  But before you run out to the store to buy their latest book or product consider this, the cemeteries are full of "experts."

Want to live a long and healthy life?  Here, I'll give you advice for FREE.  Eat healthy, exercise, get plenty of rest, be kind to your fellow human beings and don't lie to people just to make money.  There you go folks, live long and be happy!


anne marie in philly said...

YEAH! I wanna kick ass all the way to the grave eating whatever the hell I want!

slugmama said...

the only problem with "eating healthy" is that what constitutes healthy changes from one year to the next(in the "experts" estimations)and from one person to the next.
One person shuns artificial ingredients like margarine using only butter and the other person opts for margarine over butter as butter is full of fats.
Everyone has their own definition of what is healthy eating.

Adele Davis has some good ideas and helped my mother deal with my medical issues as a small child. But Hubs remembers growing up that his best friend's parents were extremists with the organic/natural foods and Davis type food allergies thinking with their kids.....while my Hub's parents served a typical for the 1950's/60's diet to him and his siblings. Guess which set of families' kids were always sick? Yep, the natural/organic fed ones. lolol

You are so right that you just have to be sensible, learn some things about nutrition and follow some "not-so-common-anymore" sense about diet and exercise.

Jon said...

Ron, you hit the proverbial nail on the head with this one. You've expressed my thoughts exactly. Things haven't changed much at all from the days of the slick snakeoil salesmen a century ago. I remember when Rodale croaked on the Dick Cavett show.

Do you remember Euell Gibbons? (that idiot was from Texas). He used to eat pine tree nuts and twigs. He was a constant guest on TV shows, where he always bragged that he'd live to be 100. He died at age 64.

Ron said...


Diet and health "experts", one of my major pet peeves. Most of these people are fakin it. They're just out to sell books and/or magazines. Yes, I remember Euell Gibbons. I had forgotten about that phony. Oh well, they made a good living selling their fantasies about health foods when they were alive.

I feel the same with the religious "experts" who claim to know what happens when you die. Nothing, that's what happens. This is it folks, you only get one go round.


Ron said...

Anne Marie,

I will continue to eat my Doritos Blazzing (Saddle?) chips every day. My body will tell me when I've had enough. I don't need no damn stinking experts.


Ron said...


I have two friends now who are barely hanging onto their lives. They have all kinds of problems. Of course they ate "healthy" all their lives. I HAD other friends, the ones who bragged that their "healthy" eating would outlive me, they're dead. Case closed.


Amanda said...

What we know today about food might not apply tomorrow, and so on... All the above people were authors. Hmm!!! Writing books killed them (lol).

pat888 said...

Ooops. I publicly apologize for sending you a couple of items from the Max Gerson Institute. But in my defence it was after reading yesterday's blog - not today's. Sorry.


anne marie in philly said...

2 of my co-workers constantly complain about "carbs" and eat salad, etc. guess what? one has diabetes and the other has high cholesterol. both are on prescription meds. they are super skinny.

I am fat, take no prescription meds, have low cholesterol, and no diabetes. BOO YAH!

anne marie in philly said...

bwhahahahaha! great logic, dear! :)

Ron said...

I didn't get it Pat.

Ron said...


They wrote books to make money. And I think some of the authors actually believed what they were writing.


pat888 said...

Ron, it should arrive by tomorrow or Monday at the latest. I might hazard a guess at what you might think of the info - but let me know if you care to - even if you deem it to be bogus. At home now.


David Jeffreys said...

When I lived in South Florida, the Director of the Miami Heart Institute died one morning of a heart attack, while out jogging for his heart health!

By now, I must have read thousands of articles on how coffee is bad for you, and how coffee is good for you. They cancel each other out. Also true of many other items!

Some doctors have said eat no carbs, while others have said eat no meat. So why have our bodies evolved to eat and digest both?

Ron said...


I think I missed something here.


Ron said...


I can see walking for your health but not jogging. All that banging of your joints can't be good for you. Of course jogging is sexier than walking fast.

I've read those article too about how coffee is good for you and then how it is bad for you. Same with other food products. The only one product that I know is bad is cigarette and I gave them up July 15, 1967. My father was told for years to stop smoking and eating greasy food. He died in 2000 at age 80....from lung cancer. Still, he lived longer than any of these "health experts." And he never jogged or even walked fast in his life. You're gonna die when you're gonna die.


Jack said...

A lot of longevity is due to genetics. Both my paternal and maternal families have lived into their 80's and 90's. My mother and 2 of her sisters lived to be 100. My mother just passed in May, not of any failure of her vital organs directly, she died of MRSA she contacted in the hospital. Even after December 2012 when she decided to give up all treatment she lasted 5 months, longer than any doctors thought she would. She was alert and coherent up until the last 5 days when the infection finally took over and her body just naturally shut itself down.

On another note, I grew up in Delaware County PA, familiar with Downingtown and have many fond memories of the bar scene in the 60's. This is the first time I am commenting, I read you pretty much every day.


pat888 said...

Sincerely sorry Ron - I may have miscommunicated my thoughts. After I read your blog on how you were progressing with your prostate treatment - I took it upon myself to have sent to you a dvd and pamphlet from The Max Gerson Institute - an organization founded by Dr Max Gerson who wished to treat disease by lifestyle change rather than drugs. But then I realized after reading today's blog that - well, a lot of these ideas are fads, perhaps even just make money schemes. And that receiving that kind of material is not what would really interest you. I was apologizing for sending you something which you might even find annoying. I think my heart was in the right place but perhaps a little interfering.

Ron said...

No need to apologize Pat. I didn't understand what you were sending to me. I'll read and watch what you sent to me. I'm always open to new information although I already have read a lot of information on prostate cancer and its treatment.



Ron said...

Hey Jack!

Glad to hear from you! You're right, much of longevity is due to genetics. Unless you're really abusing and not taking care of your body, how long you live depends on your family history. My father all his life ate greasy breakfasts and smoked. He lived to 80. Mom, who also had long lived sisters and father, lived to 86. However, her mother died from an infection after she gave birth to a child (at home) and died at age 27.

I think it's all fine and well if some ambitious folks find a way to make money from selling their unproven theories of living longer by eating certain foods but take all that "advice" with a grain of salt, so to speak.

By the way, the bar scene of the 60's you speak of, would that be the Philly bar scene?


Jack said...


Absolutely. I hit he Westbury many times but always ended up at the Penrose Club after hours. It was there I met my one and only partner and we stayed together for 12 years. The split was due mostly to his excessive drinking and it unfortunately soured me from ever seeking another relationship. I am however, happy in my declining years with many friends and family.

Ron said...


Very cool. I had the same trajectory. I would start the night at the Westbury, my first Philadelphia gay bar (and favorite) and end the night at the Penrose. Were you there the night Charlie Gracie appeared there and sang "Poor Butterly", the Fifties hit song. I thought at the time, "Charlie Gracie appearing at a gay dance club?"

I'm sorry to hear that your relationship didn't work out. Both Bill and I are soured on alcoholics. His father died when Bill was only one year old in a drunk driving accident and his step father was also a very abusive alcoholic. I witnessed my uncle's alcoholism which completely turned me off to alcoholics. Bill often said if I was an alcoholic he would never stay with me.

Your "declining years." How old are you if you don't mind me asking.


Jack said...

I don't remember seeing Charlie Gracie. It might have been before my time.

The relationship had it's good times as well as bad. I can look at it now and remember the good times but will always remember the bad, just don't let the hurt get to me anymore. There was a period of time that I thought I was the problem, it took some time before I realized that that was partly true, he brought out the worst in me. That was a long time ago.

Will be 69 in a couple of months, not far behind you.


Ron said...


I'm thinking I probably saw you or even talked to you during my "bar days" in Philadelphia. I went to the bars from 1963 to 1980. I just left a comment on the blog "Philadelphia's Gayborhood". Do you know of that blog? Very interesting. Reading it triggers fond memories. Of course I had my times where my heart was broken (Bill and I have always had an open relationship). But that's part of life. I'm like you know, I don't let the hurt get to me anymore. Being with the wrong person can bring out the worst in most people. I try to avoid this people. I wish I was that smart when I was younger.


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