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OPINION | MIKE MASTERSON: A cruel world

by Mike Masterson | April 27, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.

Little wonder I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 25 years ago. Any person who's loved bacon and sugar across a lifetime can't expect to be named the poster boy for dietary nutrition.

And according to two recent health studies (also recently reported by Drs. Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz), those of us who insist on continuing to regularly wolf down ample portions of each are playing a dangerous game with both our cognitive abilities and internal organs, especially as we age.

The doctors warn that American adults gain an average of 1.25 pounds annually between their 20s and 50s, which contributes to chronic diseases ranging from depression to aching joints, heart disease and diabetes.

Then, valued readers, comes even more bitter news for anyone who enjoys the smell and taste of fried bacon as much as I do, along with sweet foods.

These physicians cite researchers who studied data gathered from half a million people between the ages of 40 and 69 and discovered that consuming less than an ounce of processed meat daily (think one slice of bacon) is linked to a 44 percent increase in the risk for dementia in an eight-year stretch.

As one who always loved a good bologna sandwich with mayonnaise and a slice of juicy tomato, I was disheartened to see processed meats including hot dogs, summer sausage, ham and, of course, that bacon all make the list of higher-risk foods. It's never a positive, they say, when the meats we consume are preserved by smoking, salting, curing or adding chemical preservatives.

Yet typical Americans eat about 6.4 ounces of these kinds of meats each week, despite being classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the doctors reported.

It's been estimated that in 2015 more than 14,000 new cancer cases in the U.S. stemmed from Americans 20 and older who eat too much processed meat.

I'm not trying to lecture valued readers with this information. Most of us can continue to pick and choose what we place in our bodies, especially as we age.

So much of what I've always enjoyed (pasta, thick steaks, Honey Baked ham, corn dogs, ice cream, pies, cakes, milkshakes, yeast rolls with butter, pizza, chips and cheese dip) has vanished from my diet today.

They say a good thing for any diabetic to do, especially a septuagenarian who hopes to become an octogenarian, is to pay attention to these findings.

Like it or not, the evidence seems clear enough to me. We truly are what we eat, particularly as the years tick away. So it's come down to trading my crispy bacon for broccoli and fried corn dogs (slathered in mustard) for raw walnuts. Cruel world indeed.

Carnage and religion

What is it in the psyche of the human beast that makes it want to murder so many of its kind in the name of our creator? The newspaper on Sunday reported on the spread of such carnage around the world.

Is it fear? Insecurity? Insanity? The need to feel spiritually superior in some twisted form of logic?

Considering how quickly life passes, why should we care how or why others think differently when it comes to whom we worship for the gift of life?

I couldn't care less if my friends and neighbors attend Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim services. That's strictly their business, right?

Yet just the other day, our paper carried a story about 26 nations where religious liberty is severely curtailed or in danger.

It's not just smaller, undeveloped nations either. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom found five of the world's most populated countries are the most egregious and systemic ongoing violators: China, India, Russia, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Also of concern are conditions in North Korea, Iran, Syria, Burma, Vietnam, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Twelve more, including Egypt, Cuba, Afghanistan, Algeria, Indonesia and Turkey, have been put on its watch list.

Imagine the combined populations of so many populous nations and how threatened their populations must be to live under constant constraints and fear of religious persecution.

A related story Sunday left me wondering why Sri Lanka, with its 70 percent Buddhist population, wasn't included on the list after a prominent Muslim lawmaker and his brother were arrested for allegedly aiding and abetting two groups of suicide bombers aligned with the Islamic State. On Easter Sunday 2019, 269 people were killed in six blasts at Catholic and Protestant churches and three tourist hotels.

Anyone who commits such intentional evil, especially in the name of religion, is unquestionably among the worst of the planet's supposedly "highest functioning" animals.

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you (regardless of their choice of faith).


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at [email protected]

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