Am I seeing this right? Are studies now showing that smoking and obesity might have some benefits after all? Researchers are reporting that smokers are at a lower risk for developing Parkinson’s disease, while obese people who have heart disease live longer than their non-obese counterparts. What!?!? Now let me get this straight, two pillars of conventional health wisdom might be partial truths? Whaddaya know.

Check this out: 11 studies conducted between 1960 and 2004, looking at over 11,000 people, showed that current smokers had the lowest risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, while former smokers, some having quit as long as 25 years earlier, showed the next lowest risk. Scientists are not quite sure what provides the preventative effects, but they extend to cigar smoking, pipe smoking and chewing tobacco as well.

Regarding obesity: among 6,900 men with symptoms of heart disease, researchers found that those who were obese were less likely to die over the next seven-and-a-half years compared with normal-weight men. Some studies also hint that obese people may survive heart bypass surgery better.

Now this doesn’t mean that we should all pick up a pizza, beer and Marlboro lifestyle habit, but it does bring up a very important point. We still know very little about the workings of the human body. According to one of my former professors, we probably know about 40%, and I think this might be a generous estimate.

What’s the significance? Nothing we know today is 100% definite, so proceed with caution. Don’t just accept health information as it comes; think about it, be discriminating. As I like to say: today’s conventional wisdom is tomorrow’s obsolescence. You’ll be the safest if you practice the basics – the six keys to optimal health. These are tried and true principles, which haven’t changed for thousands of years – they’re timeless. So, instead of banking on Viagra, Lasix or Botox, how about caring for your health as your most important asset? You simply can’t go wrong that way.

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