• Image about Shahin Takes Off 09-15-2006

IF YOU'RE ANYTHING LIKE ME, which is to say overweight and slothful, then you had to be happy about the news coming out of the health sciences this summer.

First of all, let me say that I try to stay as far away as I can from the health sciences. I don't even know precisely what the health sciences are. For all I know, I am making up the phrase.

What I do know is that there is health and there is science, and, taken together, they are a horror movie. If one of my eyes should happen to land, like a wayward fly, on a headline with the word exercise or diet in it, I immediately divert my attention to something a bit more uplifting, like the price of gas.

Yet for those of us who disbelieve scientific studies in the expectation that they will be reversed in a few years anyway, ignore ­medical advice when disbelief no longer works, and procrastinate when ignorance fails, here, finally, is some good news. Researchers have discovered that disbelief, ignorance, and procrastination help a body fight cancer and live a longer, happier life.

Take, for example, the study that showed the English are healthier than Americans.

The English?!

The news was met with an audible intercontinental gasp.

The English?! Healthier than Americans?

As a report on National Public Radio put it: "A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association comes to a conclusion that has surprised even the researchers who conducted it." It went on to say that a researcher on the study, Michael Marmot of University College in London, was "astonished" by the results. "It was a bit of a big shock," he was quoted as saying.