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Coffee – Cancer – Dancing with the Monkey…

October 25, 2013

So, two days after I very publicly say that I am going to get off coffee, this big scientific study comes out today and tells me that not only is a little coffee good for my heart, and my sex life, it’s also rich in antioxidants, and is an excellent cancer fighter. Right up there with blueberries and tomatoes and green tea.

My girlfriend, having also heard the news, is literally waiting for me at the door with her coat on when I get home from work. “Come on” she said. “Let’s get a latte.”


Ah, but there’s a catch.

Where one cup of Joe is great for the heart and the liver, too much coffee is also very bad for you.

Two cups a day are also great. But 3-5 cups per day really starts to tax your system. And while excess coffee really clean out your liver, it will also start to melt the lining in your stomach, intestines, and lower bowls. And dehydrate the shit out of you – which leads to a whole host of other health problems (including cancer).

It’s that same old “good news – bad news” story we also have for wine, and alcohol. And pot.  

The Dionysian pleasures, in moderate amounts, we know are quite good for us. They unclog the veins, both of body and mind.

The only thing better for you than moderate amounts of coffee, alcohol, or pot, is sex. Do you know that statistically speaking, men who have sex 3 times a week or more, have an 85% less chance of getting either prostate or testicular cancer? And have a 50% overall reduction in cancer amongst men in their age groups?

So, if you had sex every other day, or every third day, your risk of getting cancer would drop significantly.

It’s not however, just about having sex that contributes to these numbers. To have sex with your partner three times a week or more, means that first off, you have to be physically healthy enough to actually have sex three times a week – so, in order to have the sex drive required for a 3-or-more a week routine (week in, and week out), usually means you are eating better, are pretty active, and have a good self-body image. (Well, and the time.) Plus, you have to be pretty good in bed, otherwise who’d bother to sleep with you three times a week (or more)? I know people who are the exception to these rules, but it’s been my overall experience that the people who actually have that much sex are in overall good health.

As a society – and ours now the most obese in history – where 80% of us are completely out-of-shape and have no cardiovascular health – we know the sex thing ain’t happening anywhere near those numbers. The Statistical average – as compiled by Statistics Canada – is that most Canadian couples have sex about every second Saturday evening or Sunday evening (slightly more on Saturdays than Sundays), and for between 7 and 25 minutes (the average being just over 17 minutes). (Who would admit they only have sex for 7 minutes?) 

So this is where the coffee, tea, alcohol, and pot of the Dionysian buffet come into play. If we use them properly, they can at least prop up our otherwise inactive lifestyles.

But we know that our inactive lifestyles are mainly due to our personal sense of indolent-indulgence, and thus, why so few of us can control our alcohol, coffee, and pot intakes. We abuse them as part of abusing ourselves.

The history of coffee is a great example of our modern sense of indulgence and our total overall lack of self-control. When coffee first came to Europe it completely changed everything. British women very quickly saw that men who indulged in coffee lost their sex drives. (Women weren’t allowed coffee.) More horrifically, was that their men were preferring coffee to sex. British women, tried (in vain) to get a government ban on the importation of coffee.

(This story, for me, is the best myth buster that men are virile sex predators always ready and on the look out for seed dispersion. Most men, in fact, would rather drink coffee and talk to other men.)

Alcohol and pot both have similar tales to tell. And countries have gone to war in the past over tea.


It is this indulgence urge that so many of us can not control, that blinds so many of us to the need to contemplate the consumer changes we will need to make, if we and the current biosphere we call our planet are going to survive this century’s climate change. Everybody wants to fly to Mexico for a holiday, or to BC to ski, or home for the holidays. I’ve flown all the way to Buenos Aires just to sit in 150 year-old cafes and read my Galliano. We all do it. And what’s better than sitting on the couch and watching 300 channels of entertainment on a Wednesday night? There are like 10,000 documentaries on the Internet. I can sit there for hours binge-doc’ing. And everyone talks about all the really good television series on cable these days! Hey, I worked hard – I was stressed out – all day. Grab some chips on your way in…

My parents’ generation lived on meat and potatoes, wild berries, honey and bread. If they couldn’t grow it, shoot it, or make it themselves, they didn’t have it. My mom was 12 before she first heard a radio, and 35 before she saw a color television. As a girl, my mother only ever saw oranges at Christmas – and that would be the one orange she would get in her stocking (with three pieces of candy).

We will have to go back to some version of that level of consumption. Perhaps it may not need to be as severe as this, or, it could be a lot worse. For if our infrastructure collapses as it did immediately after the fall of the Roman Empire, most of us will be eating grass by the middle of the century. Archaeologists have many examples throughout the Roman Empire of teeth worn down by eating grass, just twenty years after the fall. (Modern perspective: At any given time, and given the current way we do the distribution of food, Nova Scotia only ever has a three-day supply of food on hand. Most provinces and American states are in a similar food supply position. What starts to happen on day 4? By 10? After one month? Twenty years?)

Anyway, this was a long way around to saying that science is telling us that a cup of coffee is good for you – reduces cancer and heart disease – can put ‘a little lead in your pencil’ as the farmfolk say.

So, I’m back dancing with the monkey. 

My sobriety didn’t last 48 hours.

But whoever said sobriety was good for you, anyway?

I don’t trust that guy’s message any more than I trust that beer ad  saw last night during the hockey game that told me if I drink Bud, I’ll get laid in a hot threesome. (After the game is over, of course. Let’s afterall, keep our priorities straight.)

One Comment leave one →
  1. julia caron permalink
    October 26, 2013 11:21 am

    I wonder what my children would say if at Christmas in their stocking we put an orange and 3 candies? My father too shared with me and my children how at Christmas he would get some nuts and figs and they thought they had died and went to heaven. My mother-in-law will be 91 this year and with her first 5 children she had no electricity and heat came from stocking the stove with wood. She made everything from scratch not a single thing they ate came from a store except for flour to make the bread. I have spent time talking with my mother-in-law about her life from the age of sixteen (the age she was when she married) to having her last child at the age of 40 and most of the time i am picking my chin from the ground because I cannot even imagine living this life that she lived. My father spent his life from the age of 5 to 8 running for cover to bomb shelters, always struggling to find enough food to eat and lived in fear daily wondering when the next bomb would hit. He told these stories over and over to myself, my siblings and his grandchildren. I was fortunate to go to Malta with my dad as an adult before he died and he took me o the places where he lived, where he ran for cover and even the place he use to sneek away to watch the soldiers go in and out in the harbour. He even sang the song that the soldiers would sing when they were going to war. Fortunate for us we found a diary that my dad had kept with his memories of his childhood.
    I have often sat and tried to wonder what it would be like to have nothing and struggle to try and put together a meal to feed my family and I can’t . Isn’t it amazing how our generation struggles with the opposite of our parents and grandparents, overindulgence and how it is killing us. We are trying so hard to live in moderation and give up those things that are not good for us. Are our children going to go back to a simplier life and not struggle with overindulging?

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