Thursday, January 26, 2012

Let the Buyer Beware!

I feel like Miles Monroe, owner of the Happy Carrot Health-Food store in Woody Allen’s classic comedy/satire, “Sleeper.”  Miles lived in Manhattan in 1973; he was cryogenically frozen without his consent; awakened 200 years later, only to find that everything he knew was wrong. 

In their efforts to revive him, the 22nd century doctors who “thawed” him prescribed chocolate and cigarettes!  He refused, of course, coming from the birth of the health food mania of the 1970’s.  But they assured him that the latest scientific research proved nicotine and cocoa beans to be most healthful and rejuvenating.

So it made his abstinence seem futile.  Hmmm.   

And what about all those organic herbs, vitamin supplements, and gag-inducing blended concoctions he must have choked down in the name of well-being?  Had it all been in vain?    

Flash forward, or back to the present, or wherever we are in relation to that fictional scenario:  Reuters Health now reports that a University of Connecticut researcher who studied the link between decelerated aging and a substance found in red wine has committed 145 acts of data fabrication and falsification, throwing most of his findings into doubt.  

That’s right.  Dipak K. Das, who directed the university's Cardiovascular Research Center, studied the substance resveratrol, touted as a means to slow aging and maintain good health as people get older.  A Las Vegas resveratrol maker, Longevinex, has promoted Das's research, and he appears in a lengthy video they produced hyping the nutrient as the next aspirin - “The sliced bread of the Viagra & Botox set.”  I beg your pardon?! 

Thank heavens for the tipster who alerted UConn and the U.S. Office of Research Integrity, which investigates alleged misconduct by federal grant recipients.  They’ve in turn notified 11 journals that published Das's work, including “The Journal of Antioxidants & Redox Signaling.”  Really. 

Shocking for the world of science.  But more important for us: resveratrol in red wine is not the lost secret of eternal youth we were promised. 

Great.  That’s just great. 

Red wine won’t keep me young.  Thank you so much, Dr. Das.  I threw myself into that regimen wholeheartedly!  It’s very discouraging.  And it’s a dilemma:  Should I abstain, or not?  Will we find out next year that, oops, resveratrol really does reverse the sands of time?   

What axiom of wisdom is next to be debunked?  I’m not lankier in my flare-leg jeans?  Minimizers maximize?  They told me I’d look great, but am I just another tubby girl in a V-neck sweater and vertical stripes?!  

For years we thought a golden tan was the hallmark of glowing health.  But no.   

Public schools served grilled cheese sandwiches and tater tots to untold thousands of innocent children.  Now we’re informed that government-issued pasteurized processed “cheese food” and potatoes deep-fried in animal lard aren’t the nutritional dynamos we were led to believe.  Or are they? 

We used to be able to trust our mortgage lenders.  Yikes.  Next they’ll tell me the Nigerian National Petroleum Company isn’t going to transfer $47,000,000 into my bank account, after all. 

Of course, I kind of knew about the Nigerians, anyway.  I barely considered their proposal, though I felt for the Nigerian civil servants who emailed me, being forbidden to operate a foreign bank account and all.  That’s why they needed my help in the first place.  

My 25% of $47million?  That’s about; let’s see, by my calculations, $11million and change.  I could use that kind of dough.  But still, I’m skeptical.  Why did they pay so much for the mineral rights to begin with?  Everyone knows you get your contingencies in place before you tie up your capital! 

And it’s common knowledge that to be a legitimate transferee of such moneys according to Nigerian law, a person like me would have to be a current depositor of at least $100,000 in a Nigerian bank.  Pretty inconvenient.   

They said they’d be most grateful for my assistance, but I just don’t know anymore, now that I’m off the cabernet. 

A person can’t be too careful.  You put your faith in something only to find it reversed on appeal.  Even worse - it was fabricated and falsified from the outset.   

From now on, I’m sticking with the tried and true:  I’ll drink my sloe gin fizz, wear my most forgiving black, and keep my money in the henhouse with the eggs in a variety of baskets.  

No, no!  I won’t be fooled again.