There's no good excuse for bad health habits. But that doesn't mean you have to put up with nasty comments from the self-appointed Health Police each time you commit some "infraction." Keep reading to get some much-needed ammo for next time the "cops" come knocking.
You're Still Smoking?
Smoking is deadly, that's for sure. But that's not the whole story.
A 2007 Harvard study showed that smokers were 73 percent less likely to get Parkinson's disease. The more participants smoked, the lower their risk.
And that's not all. A 2008 study published in the journal AIDS showed that smoking seemed to help prevent a rare cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma.
Still, doctors warn no possible benefits are worth the risk of getting smoked by tobacco.
Aren't You Pregnant? Put Down That Glass
Pregnant? Next time some well-meaning relative - or, even worse - some random stranger has a problem with you having a glass of red, say you're doing it for baby's sake. As evidence, you can point to a recent study that found that children born to moms who drank a daily glass of wine early in pregnancy were better behaved than the children of moms who didn't drink during pregnancy.
"Children of light and moderate drinkers had less emotional and behavioral problems through childhood and adolescence," Dr. Monique Robinson, one of the study's authors, told Reuters Health last year.
But pregnant women shouldn't run to the bar just yet. Doctors warn that drinking during pregnancy can cause all sorts of health problems for the baby, including mental retardation. And doctors simply don't know how much is too much.
Coffee Is Bad for You
The anti-caffeine cabal has long been hopped up on the idea that coffee will kill you, but a growing body of research shows caffeine can bring some health benefits. Like reducing the risk for diabetes, gallstones, and colon cancer.
Then again, if you're not already a coffee drinker, there are few doctors out there who will prescribe Starbucks. Besides staining your teeth, coffee can promote insomnia and anxiety. And for pregnant women, too much caffeine in any form has been linked to miscarriage and irritability in newborns.
Stop Holding in Your Feelings
Tired of being criticized for not "sharing" your feelings? Turns out psychologists may be on your side.
"We have been socialized to think that sharing all negativity with others is somehow healthy and healing, while it is actually akin to spreading around toxic waste unless it has an express purpose," says Dr. Sam Von Reiche, a psychologist in private practice in Clifton, N.J. "What I see quite often is an over-expression of emotion."
Of course, never expressing your feelings can lead to anxiety as well as relationship problems. So know when to vent. Says Von Reiche, "Reserve expression of strong negative emotion for the times that count."
Hey Fatty, Get on the Treadmill
Tired of the workout police busting your chops? Next time they do, drop this statistic on them like a 20-pound dumbbell:
Americans are working out more than ever, yet we're still fat.
In 2009, about 28 percent of adults were obese and yet almost 35 percent claimed they exercised regularly, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These stats don't surprise San Diego-based fitness trainer Ethan Carter. "Weight loss is simple math - calories in versus calories out. In order to lose weight one must have a calorie deficit. Your post-workout meal can't be McDonald's."
Exercise is good for you, of course. But don't let the gym rats fool you into believing it's a panacea.
Drinking Will Kill You
Do you feel guilty having a beer in front of your non-drinking friends? No need to.
Studies show that moderate drinking - usually defined as a drink a day for women and up to two for men - of any type of alcohol can reduce the risk of heart attack,as well as symptoms of Alzheimers.
People who have a bit to drink seem to live longer too.
And now, a new study in the journal Rheumatology suggests that drinking may reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis, and even reduce the risk of developing arthritis in the first place.
Are You Really Going to Eat That?
Tired of being picked on about your weight? Next time someone interrupts your lunch, tell them a recent study shows that losing weight releases toxins into the bloodstream.
If you're female, you can add that that a recent Harvard study suggests that overweight women are less likely than their slender friends to develop glaucoma, an eye disease that can lead to blindness.
These studies aside, there's no getting around that fact that being overweight increases your risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.
I Don't Think that Orange Is Organic
Some people insist that everything that passes between their lips be organic. That's cool, but do they nag you about your food choices? Say this:
The body's "pesticide load" can be lessened by choosing organic berries, tomatoes, and certain other fruits and vegetables that don't require peeling. But there's a catch: people tend to overeat foods they perceive as healthy - organic food, in particular, according to a recent University of Michigan study.
This Chicken Isn't "Natural"
Some people who saw the 2008 blockbuster documentary "Food Inc." are convinced that "natural" chicken is healthier. Is someone you love making you crazy at the dinner table with comments about the chicken on your plate? Make sure he knows the facts.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says chicken injected with salt and flavoring juice can be labeled "natural," as long as it's not flavored artificially or preserved with chemicals.
And "natural" or not, a full one-third of chicken sold in the U.S. has been injected with heart attack- and stroke-provoking sodium.
That does not mean all chickens are not created equal. If you want your poultry pure, your best bet may be a local producer or the farmer's market.
Pregnant? You Should Be Eating for Two
Back in the day, pregnant women were encouraged to gain lots of weight. Now we know better.
Research shows that if a woman is overweight during pregnancy, her child is more likely to become overweight in adulthood. So don't listen to people who tell you that being pregnant is a great excuse to gorge.