Everything fun is bad for you. Or is it? Recent research shows some bad habits might not be as bad as you think. Now, by no means are we suggesting you go out and take up new bad habits, nor are we endorsing any you might currently have. What we are suggesting, however, is that there’s more to them than simply bad health. While many consequences of poor health choices aren’t outweighed by the benefits—don’t know about you, but we’d rather have trouble focusing than, say, lung cancer—at least you have a defense the next time someone nags. Here’s your evidence.
Who doesn’t love a good stiff drink? People who die young, apparently. Despite the well-documented health detriments of booze, drinkers live longer. During a 20-year study released last year, 69 percent of teetotalers died, compared to 60 percent of heavy drinkers and 41 percent of moderate drinkers. This is true even excluding former drinkers who have already destroyed their organs. Even barflies outlive the clean and sober.
Researchers suggest two reasons. Moderate drinkers who have a beer after work to unwind have less stress. But that doesn’t explain the heavy drinkers, because consuming larger amounts of alcohol makes your body feel more stressed, regardless of how your brain feels. Socializing with other drinkers is the other part of the equation. People rarely drink alone, and loneliness is increasingly tied to a shorter lifespan. Prescription? Two drinks a day, with friends. The study’s authors say any more brings health problems that outweigh the benefits.
Of course, drinking often leads to…
Human beings and other primates are notoriously violent creatures. Every culture includes some form of human blood sport, from the pankration of the ancient Greeks to the mixed martial arts of today. But studies show martial arts training actually makes for less violent people. This cuts across all age groups, including the notoriously impetuous young and the overly hormonal adolescents among us.
In 2008, American elementary schools tried a Gentle Warrior program to combat bullying. Not only were the third, fourth and fifth grade boys who participated less likely to bully other children, they were more likely to intervene when seeing another child bullied. (Interestingly, martial arts had no effect on the behavior of girls.) Researchers believe it’s more than the discipline of studying martial arts; the positive experience of removal from criminal environments is also in play. Kids (and presumably adults) learn valuable interpersonal skills, find themselves more connected to their peers and aren’t hanging around after school looking for trashcans to light on fire.
Put succinctly, fighting in a structured environment makes everyone less of an asshole. Who knew?
3. Smoking Grass
“Duuude…anyone seen our careers?”
Yes, dudes, your weed habit has health benefits other than giving you your appetite back after chemo. Though, if you do have cancer, the nightly doobie will do more than just make you hungry. According to the American Association for Cancer Research, it will slow the growth of your tumor. Research further shows that smoking ganja relieves symptoms of diseases and disorders such as Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and migraine headaches. It also prevents seizures and helps people with OCD and Tourette’s relax.
Perhaps most interestingly, a 2009 University of Southern California study found that smoking dope is good for—wait for it—ADD and ADHD. A daily dose works better than Ritalin, without the side effects. Also, anecdotal evidence suggests that giving your girlfriend weed will make her more tolerable during PMS.
Even the man seems to agree. To date, 16 states and DC have have enacted laws legalizing medical marijuana.