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Dr. Zorba Paster: An apple a day keep drug companies at bay

You’ve heard the slogan, “An apple a day will keep the doctor away.” Some say it started as, “An apple a day, no doctor to pay.” Clearly from pre-insurance times.

But I like the writing from best-selling author Michael Pollan, noting that when apples were first introduced in the United States, most were used in making hard cider – alcohol.

In the late 1800s, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union started chopping down entire apple orchards – just picture those women in long petticoat skirts swinging axes – to stop hard cider from ruining society. The apple people needed to change its image, so the “apple a day” idea was born, and the slogan hit home.

Then there were the anti-constipation folks. They thought most disease came from not having that regular daily bowel movement. An “apple a day” provided just enough bulk to push out the perfect poop.

Pick what you want regarding the slogan’s origins, it has made it to modern times. Except it’s wrong.

The new slogan should be, “An apple a day will keep the drug companies at bay.” That is, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine publication.

Researchers reviewed medical and dietary records from nearly 9,000 people, comparing those who had a daily apple – a mere 10 percent of the group – to those who did not. They found that each group visited the doctor the same number of times during the year but that the apple eaters took fewer drugs. More apples meant fewer prescription medications.

Now, you may argue that the apple folks were healthier by nature and apple eating was a marker for better nutrition. And, indeed, you may be right. But your mom might have been right, too, when she commanded, “Eat your apple; it’s good for you.”

Now, on to another topic, e-cigarettes. I’ve been harping on this for several years, as evidenced by the ton of anti-Zorba mail I get on e-cigs. It seems that many of these consumers don’t like my stand. If you’re one of them, you may not want to read on.

First of all, I think adults should be allowed to consume whatever air pollutant they want, but not next to me. Since I don’t know the long-term effects of e-cigs – and you don’t, either – don’t rant about how they’re safe.

It took a long time to learn that 30 years of smoking would lead to lung cancer, pulmonary disease, heart attacks and strokes. The fact is, we just don’t know about the long-term effects of e-cigs.

What we do know is fresh, clean air, pure and simple, is the safest thing to consume. Period.

But on to the most frightening issue around, the epidemic of e-cigarette smoking in our schools. This Trojan horse pollutant has exploded since I jumped on my soap box. The percent of high school students who have tried e-cigarettes tripled from 2011 to 2013.

Sweet flavors like sweet tart and unicorn puke – a name clearly aimed toward middle school kids – apparently taste like candy in a vapor. This $7-billion-a-year industry has to find someone to consume its products, especially since regular cigarette smoking continues to decline in adults and children.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine (to addict), flavors (to addict) and flavor enhancers (to possibly harm).

I remember when red dye #2 was used in hot dogs, until they found out it caused cancer. I remember running through clouds of DDT pesticide, used to cut down on mosquitoes, until they found out it, like cigarettes, caused babies to be born prematurely. I remember the old adage that a pregnant woman should drink a daily beer for the B vitamins, until they found out it caused fetal alcohol syndrome.

My spin: Keep this crap away from our kids. Pass the same laws that apply to cigarettes. And start educating our children that sucking in chemical air is pollution.

Do not be fooled by this Trojan horse. Stay well.

Dr. Zorba Paster hosts a radio program that airs locally at 3 p.m. Saturdays on WBFO-FM 88.7. Email him at