Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Coffee will either kill us, or turn us into superhumans

There were times when I thought my 17 years as a journalist would eventually take its toll on my health.
Missing? A bottle of scotch.
Before I go any further I must say every stereotype you’ve ever heard about journalists is true.
§  We eat horribly. Probably half a journalist’s meager paycheck goes into the vending machines in the break room, our freezer is filled with microwavable boxes and election night pizza is the greatest gift to mankind.
§  Our desks are examples of what not to do when company comes over. The only thing messier than a journalist’s desk is a town after a tornado. And there is food on that desk covered in notes from a months old city council meeting. It’s probably still good.
§  Given our penchant for correcting grammar, we’re not fun friends to have on social media. We publicly mock those we barely know for using the wrong form of “there,” and feel good about ourselves after, until we get punched in the nose.
There are plenty more correct stereotypes – don’t even get me started about hygiene. Please, don’t – but those are minor compared to the two most glaring stereotypes ever exhibited by journalists from the likes of Mike Royko to Hunter S. Thompson (if those names don’t ring a bell insert Perry White and Lou Grant).
I said that was my last beer. Back away.
The first is booze.
Many writers drink. Edgar Allen Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, the list of whiskey-hounds is too long to finish, so I’ll skip to Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway wasn’t just a writer; he was a journalist and never met a bottle he didn’t empty, usually before noon.
But as romanticized as boozing journalists have become, journalists drink something a lot more often than alcohol ­– coffee.
According to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, 85 percent of 10,000 journalists surveyed claimed to drink at least three cups of coffee a day, and 70 percent of them “admitted that their working ability would be affected without a daily mug of coffee.” Journalists, the study found, drink more coffee than do cops.
That’s a lot. Enough to be dangerous?
Over the years coffee has been blamed for an increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and schizophrenia-like symptoms. Although coffee has recently been removed from the list of Items that Cause Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease and Other Things Nature is Trying to Kill You With, it still messes with your brain.
According to livescience.com, people (journalists count as people) who drink three cups of coffee a day are “more likely to hallucinate.”
We all feel like that behind the keyboard.
But that’s not the good news.
A recent study of 27,793 coffee drinkers over a 10-year period showed drinking three cups of coffee a day (enough to make you see things that aren’t there) protects your liver, the one thing many writers and journalists have been trying to destroy with booze all these years.
So coffee turns writers and journalists into some kind of supermen.
Did journalism give me bad heath? I think not.

Jason Offutt’s parody survival guide, “How to Kill Monsters Using Common Household Items,” is available at amazon.com.

1 comment:

dsart said...

I'll opt for superhuman.
Or journalist. But I repeat myself.

(Don't journalists get paid by the column inch? I wouldn't know, since I don't get paid much for writing, but it seems the practice would encourage repetitive redundancy. Where's the coffee?)