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Living dangerously -- the American way

By Dr. Billy Goldberg and Mark Leyner

What do you think presents a more imminent danger to your average American citizen today? An Al-Qaida sleeper cell? A nuclear warhead hurtling toward the U.S.  from some mobile launch pad in Tora Bora or Pakistan? A giant asteroid? An invasion of transnational flesh-eating zombies from Canada and Mexico emboldened by NAFTA? How about a lemon wedge in your Diet Coke? 

Surprise! It's the lemon wedge.

Image: Soleil Sun Alarm

According to study conducted by a microbiologist named of Anne LaGrange Loving, 70 percent of the lemon wedges she tested (from 21 different restaurants) were contaminated with bacteria, including high counts of fecal bacteria.  Ah, a nice twist of E. coli! (WATCH THE VIDEO)

"I don't need a schmear of feces with my food!" Loving said, musing upon the results of her research. We think that ranks as one of the great scientific quotes of all time! In fact, not since Archimedes – upon discovering a method for measuring the density of an object by dividing its weight by the volume of water it displaces  –  rose from his tub, rushed out naked into the streets of Rome, and exclaimed, "Eureka!  I have found it!" has there been a better scientific quote.

Now, can E. coli (Escherichia coli) kill you? If you're very young or very old, or you have a compromised immune system, it sure can. In addition to severe cramps and bloody diarrhea, an E. coli infection can have some pretty serious complications, including kidney failure. There's a relatively easy fix for the lemon wedge problem. STOP asking for chunks of fruit in your drinks. 

Could schmears of feces on the fruit in our drinks have anything to do with the eye-opening fact that the United States ranks 42nd in the world in life expectancy? Well, maybe, among other things …If you follow the news on a daily basis, you're probably wondering how an American manages to reach the ripe ol' average age of 77.9. If it's not the E. coli on your lemon wedge, how about the bad heparin? Last week, Baxter International recalled its blood thinner (which is used to prevent clotting during dialysis and after some surgeries) after some 448 adverse reactions and 21 deaths. The FDA is investigating two Chinese wholesalers who may have supplied bootleg "crude heparin" to the Chinese plant that sells supplies to Baxter. 

Apparently there are unregulated family workshops that scrape mucous membrane from pig intestines and cook it to produce "crude heparin."

And if it's not the bad heparin, how about that tainted hamburger meat?  A California meat company, Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., just recalled over 50 million pounds of meat after it was discovered that they were allowing "downer cows" to be butchered. Downer cows (cows that can't walk) are banned from the human food supply because they pose an increased risk of diseases, including mad cow disease. Putting aside, for a moment, the outrageous moral indecency of ramming fork-lifts into sick animals (the Humane Society released an undercover video made in the Westland/Hallmark slaughterhouse) --  how about the fact that more than a third of the meat had been used in federal nutrition programs, including school lunches! Then, of course, there's always the possibility that you could be seated next to someone with drug-resistant tuberculosis on your airline flight. And if you survive the flight, maybe the ricin in your motel room will kill you. 

And if that doesn't do you in, perhaps your own snoring will. A new study shows that loud snorers have a 34 percent increased risk of having a heart attack and a 67 percent greater chance of suffering a stroke! (Keep in mind that loud snoring is more common in people who are overweight.)

Now, that's living – and dying – the American way. We are literally wallowing in the fat and pathogenic filth of rampant commercialism. And we're paying the price – with, if not our very lives, then surely our life expectancies.

Well, there was one bright spot in the news. Gorton's Inc. recalled 1,000 cases of frozen fish after a woman found "pills" in her daughter's Crispy Battered Fish Fillets.

What the heck are they putting in our frozen fish fillets now? Hopefully, it's Ativan – so we can stop worrying about those lemon wedges.