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Friday, September 29, 2017


The Star Advertiser had adjacent articles the other day, one indicating that the median net worth of American families is now up to $97,300.  The other article revealed that private nursing home care now costs a bit more than $97,000/year.  Interesting that they are the same.  Think about this relationship as  you plan your future, and keep in mind that one year of extended care will gobble up that net worth.  Net worth, by the way, is the value of everything you own, minus all your debts.  Here is a site you can visit to calculate your net worth.

This might confuse you, but the mean net worth in the USA is $679,913.  This table sort of explains why:
 PERCENTILE                   NET WORTH
In short, the wealth of the country is concentrated among the rich, and Donald Trump wants to make them (and he) richer still.  This rhetoric about the middle class benefiting from the upcoming tax reform only insults our intelligence.  But it's amazing what people believe.

Earlier this week, the Star Advertiser attracted my interest on two personal health issues:

  • Coffee:  
    • Five years ago I said COFFEE IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH.  
    • So I now drink a lot more coffee.  
    • However, coffee is now said to contain the carcinogen, acrylamide (C3H5NO--right).  Should I now stop drinking this brew?  
    • No!  No!  No!  I'll explain why.
    • My neighbor, who is a family physician, indicated that the concentration of acrylamide is so low that the benefits outweigh the potential for cancer.  
    • Lab tests fed animals 1000-100,000 times the human diet dosage.  Why they do this to scare us is irresponsible.  Salt is mostly bad for you, but if you in one sitting consume one pound, you will most probably die.
    • Conversely, one study showed that  increasing coffee intake by 2 cups/day lowered liver cancer risk by 40%.  
    • Scarily high for french fries, potato chips and biscuits...but who eats coffee beans:
    • Acrylamide is not found naturally in what you eat, but is produced at high temperatures, like french fries, and, minimally, in the coffee you drink.  So watch out for (in parts per billion):
      • 4,080 for Blue Mesa Grill sweet potato chips
      • 2,510 for Pringles BBQ flavor
      • 1,970 for Trader Joe’s veggie chips potato snacks
      • 1,540 for Health Valley oat bran graham crackers
      • 1,265 for Kettle potato chips, lightly salted variety
      • 768 for Burger King hash browns
      • 497 for McDonald’s french fries (the highest tested out of 7 locations)
      • 266 for Cheerios
    • Want to know what gives french fries that special good taste?  ACRYLAMIDE!!!
    • Coffee?  My suspicion is that people writing about coffee and acrylamide are confused.  Some must use the acrylamide content of the coffee bean when they should be looking at the brewed coffee, what we actually drink (the right column shows brewed coffee concentrations more than a hundred times lower than fries and chips)
    • Mind you, there is that matter of volume.  One MacDonald's french fry piece or Lays potato chip would satisfy your acrylamide crave without unduly threatening your life.  
    • But, ah, there is that Bert Lahr dare.
    • Yet, there is a serious lawsuit for coffee producers to remove this compound before sale. LOOKING AT THE ABOVE DATA, THOUGH, THAT BORDERS ON THE RIDICULOUS!!!
    • Plus, there is no easy way to remove this contaminant.  
    • And our body does metabolize it.  
    • Maybe this will help if you're even mildly concerned, compared to regular coffee:
      • instant coffee has double the concentration of acrylamide
      • coffee substitutes have three times the potency  
    • You also get exposed to acrylamide through first and second-hand smoke and personal care products.  Look at your cosmetics.  If you see these, get further information:
        1. Polyacrylamide
        2. Polyquaternium-7
        3. Polyacrylic Acid
    • Acrylamide is used to make plastics and treat wastewater, and overexposure can cause damage to the nervous system.  
    • I will now be watchful about eating too much french fries and potato chips, but I'll continue to drink as much coffee as I can, which at most is around 7 cups/week.
  • Sitting:  Two years ago I reported on KILLER CHAIRS AND COUCH POTATOES.  Effectively, the more you sit, the earlier you die.  This holds true even if you also exercise.  So the recommendation is NOT to sit for more than 30 minutes at a stretch.  Sitting is now the new smoking!
  • Finally, I've long wondered why football players wear helmets and so do baseball hitters...but soccer tends to avoid this bit of protection.  In the latest World Cup play between Germany and Saudi Arabia, six of eight goals came on headers.  Heads are used throughout play, accidents happen and players fall.  If professionals can't be convinced to do something about this, certainly, youth soccer should make helmets mandatory.  This piece of headgear costs around $40 from Amazon.  Maybe that's the problem, because soccer seems so free-willing and free.

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