John Colson: Hit and Run | AspenTimes.com

John Colson: Hit and Run

John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado

Don’t you just love it when science or society confirms something you’ve suspected all along?

In the present instance, I’m talking about a recent study that indicates coffee has a broad range of health benefits, including a reduction in cancers of the head and neck.

Okay, I thought the same thing at first: “Cancer of the head and neck? What the hell is that all about?”

Well, it seems that head and neck cancers afflict a variety of places, including the mouth, nose, sinuses, salivary glands, throat and lymph nodes in the neck, according to the National Institute of Health website. Regular coffee drinkers, according to the studies, are up to 36 percent less likely to get cancer in those areas.

Some studies even indicate that coffee may help reduce the incidence of prostate cancer in men.

Of course, coffee has had a bad rap for year from charges that it increases the potential for strokes and coronary heart disease, but some studies have come out that question those claims, too.

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So, this is a fine turn of events, giving us one more arrow in our personal health-care quivers, and one less reason to submit to the indignities and fiscal depredations of the medical class.

Right?

My only concern now is whether we may soon hear that the studies cited here were funded by Maxwell House, or Juan Valdez, or some other representative of the coffee merchants of the world.

I should note that this is not the only such golden nugget of news I’ve seen recently, bolstering my conviction that we can take care of ourselves just fine if we are a little selective in what we eat and drink.

For example, I recently heard an expert, declaiming on the health-giving properties of certain foods, announce that “there is not a single food that can give you more benefits per bite than raw garlic,” or something to that effect.

No, it’s true. I’m sure you can Google it and learn more, as well as gathering information on how to overcome the sudden onset of social isolation that comes when you start munching a clove a day.

But that’s not my point, thank you very much.

My point is that I started eating raw garlic more than 20 years ago, when I went to what was then the Soviet Republic of Ukrainia, part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, for an International Peace Walk through the rolling hills and valleys between the cities of Odessa and Kiev.

Subsidized by the fat Soviet Peace Fund, into which every Soviet citizen once tithed from their monthly paychecks, the Peace Walk was a mobile village of 500 people, half Soviets and half Americans. It was a massive undertaking, with traveling kitchens, dining tents, and privies built in advance at every stopping place we hit in a month of walking. Not to mention the gleeful and exceedingly hospitable populations of the villages and towns we traveled through.

And at every stop, at every meal, whether laid out by the Peace Walk support crew or private hosts in their homes along the way, there was a plate on each table with a pile of raw garlic cloves and wedges of tomato. Eaten together, the garlic and tomato tasted like a teeny-tiny but powerfully flavored pizza, especially when accompanied by a slab of warm Ukrainian bread slathered with sweet butter. Mmmmmm.

Anyway, when in Rome, you do what the Romans do, right? So I dived in, and found that I loved the flavor and other effects of raw garlic.

And, after doing a little research, I decided that garlic was one of nature’s best preventive medicines, good for warding off colds, clearing the blood of impurities and generally keeping the body in better balance in terms of acid versus alkaline chemistry. And experts agree.

In sum, amidst all the horrible happenings of each new day and the growing feeling that humanity is stuck in a long dark tunnel of discontent and fear, this was a little good news to brighten my day.

Hope it did the same for you.

jcolson@aspentimes.com

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