Red Meat Pinned to Blindness in Old Age

Sorry cows, a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology links higher risk of age-related macular degeneration, i.e. blindness, with heavy consumption of red meat. Australian researchers recruited 6,734 people, ages 58 to 69, living in Melbourne, surveying them about how much meat they ate, and then taking macular photographs of their retinas to evaluate eye health. Findings revealed participants eating red meat 10 times a week were 47% more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration than those eating less red meat; Medical News Today reports.

Red meat is vile. In November a report found harmful bacteria, called Subtilase cytotoxin gravitates to red meat and dairy products. Then just last week, consuming large amounts of red and processed meat was associated with higher risk of cancer and cardiovascular mortality and beyond that, eating red meat has been linked to metabolic syndrome, a known predictor of heart disease.

In related news, previous research shows antioxidants from foods, such as spinach, kale and collard greens promote eye health and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

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Health-Points: Friday 3.27.09

  • On the flipside, kids who get plenty of exercise have less depression. In adults, exercise releases endorphins helping people feel more upbeat, same goes for children. A study printed in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology divided overweight, sedentary kids, ages 7 to 11, into two exercise groups, one for 20 minutes a day and the other for 40 minutes, revealing as exercise increased so did the psychological benefits; via Booster Shots.
  • More love for vitamin D. New research in the Archives of Internal Medicine found daily supplements of vitamin D may reduce the risk of various bone breaks. The study, involving 42,279 adults, ages 65 and older, linked vitamin D with a 14% lower risk of non-vertebral fractures and 9% less risk of hip fractures. However, low-dose vitamin D supplements did not decrease the chance of fracture; via NutraIngredients.
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Red Meat, Processed Meat Lead to Death

New findings in the Archives of Internal Medicine link increased risk of cancer mortality and cardiovascular mortality with eating large amounts of red and processed meat. The largest study of its kind, researchers surveyed over 545,000 men and women, ages 50 to 71, on their eating habits and then followed them for 10 years, during this time 70,000 participants died, revealing men eating the equivalent of one quarter-pound hamburger each day had a 22% higher risk of dying of cancer and 27% for heart disease, compared to men eating only 5 ounces per week. Women had a 20% higher risk of death from cancer and 50% for heart disease; the Associated Press reports.

The low-carb kooks must be throwing a tantrum right now, but this study isn’t the first. In November, findings in the journal Cancer Research showed consuming foods high in saturated fat such as red meat heighten the risk of cancer in the small intestine and last January, a study in the International Journal of Cancer revealed foods like red meat amplify breast cancer risk with every 25 grams of meat resulting in a higher risk.

As for cardiovascular mortality, that’s obvious. According to Dr. Fuhrman, eating a lot of animal products, like meat and dairy, raise cholesterol levels and lead to heart disease, but diets rich in fruits and vegetables lower cholesterol and prevent and reverse cardiovascular events. In December, experts determined eating two servings of red meat each day raise the risk of metabolic syndrome, a precursor to heart disease.

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Low Blood Pressure, Low Cholesterol Still Great for Heart Health

Two old standbys ring true! Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, scientists claim maintaining low blood pressure and reducing LDL, or bad, cholesterol still provide the greatest protection against cardiovascular trouble. For the study, researchers recruited 3,437 men and examined their arteries with ultrasound probes and the men with the lowest levels of LDL cholesterol and the lowest blood pressure levels had the least growth of fatty deposits in the linings of their blood vessels; HealthDay News investigates.

Good thing fruits and vegetables have been shown to lower cholesterol and lower high blood pressure. Healthy plant nutrients and fiber do it naturally. Just don’t be like this guy, his diet was based on butter and when he had emergency surgery to save his life. His heart was coated in fat! The video is very yucky.

And in recent news, salt was found to reduce an enzyme that lowers blood pressure and eating eggs everyday, which are very high in cholesterol, was found to increase heart failure risk by 8% to 23% among middle-aged men and women.

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Mona Lisa in Grease, Bleh!

No doubt, Leonardo da Vinci is spinning in his grave. Not that this rendition of his classic masterpiece The Mona Lisa doesn’t bear a striking resemblance to the original, but rather, because its drawn, or smudged or whatever you want to call it, with hamburger grease:

I guess it could be worse. After all, he could have sculpted David out of chicken nuggets and French fries. For more on artist Phil Hansen, check out Phil in the Circle.

Via Serious Eats.

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Folic Acid Pills Up Prostate Cancer Risk

Most people think vitamins are healthy. No questions asked. Not always the case. According to new research in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute daily folic acid supplementation may increase men’s risk of prostate cancer. The study showed men taking 1 mg of folic acid everyday had more than twice the risk of developing prostate cancer than participants taking a placebo. Experts examined data on 643 men, with an average age of 57.4. After ten years the cancer risk among supplement-takers was 9.7%, but only 3.3% for men taking the placebo; Med News Today reports.

Isolated beta-carotene isn’t the only thing that can increase men’s risk of prostate cancer. Eating too much meat messes with a hormones resulting in more prostate cancer, while foods like broccoli provide protect against prostate cancer. And in the past, a study of 300,000 men revealed men taking more than seven vitamins a week had double the risk of getting fatal prostate cancer, compared to men who never took pills.

Now, I’m not into hocking products, but this is relevant. Dr. Fuhrman has known about link between folic acid and prostate cancer for a long time, that’s why his daily vitamin supplement Gentle Care has no folic acid and no isolated beta-carotene. Isolated beta-carotene was recently found to raise lung cancer risk. Eek!

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U.S. Blacks Have High Heart Failure Risk

New findings in the New England Journal of Medicine reveal young and middle-aged African-Americans living in the United States are 20 times more likely to suffer heart failure. Data reported average age of heart failure onset among blacks was 39, with hypertension, obesity, and kidney problems also seen earlier in blacks. The research also associates young people not getting their blood pressure checked, lack of health insurance and not taking medications as other risk factors; Reuters investigates.

Not matter what color you are. Diet is a major contributing factor to heart failure. In December, a study showed eating eggs and diary can raise heart failure risk up to 23% and people with 7 pounds of abdominal fat, i.e. chub, are 11% more likely to have a heart failure, but a diet rich in fruits and vegetables naturally lowers LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In related news, black and Hispanic children were found to have less type-1 diabetes than white kids, with Caucasian children posting the highest rate, but a recent report revealed African-Americans living in poorer communities have limited access to healthy foods.

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Grapes Help Fight Abdominal Fat

A new study in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research suggests polyphenols, found in grape seeds, may protect against oxidative stress linked to obesity. Scientists fed hamsters a high-fat diet supplemented with Chardonnay grape seed extract for 12 weeks. At the end of the experiment mice not given the grape seed extract had more abdominal fat than mice given the extract. Also, data revealed the high-fat group had increases in blood sugar, triglycerides and insulin resistance, while the extract group was “in part” protected from these effects; via Food Navigator.

In October, grapes were shown to lower blood pressure and reduce heart damage, but lots of plant foods, like blueberries and kiwis, contain polyphenols, antioxidants and other nutrients shown to prevent cancer. Nuts and seeds are other excellent sources phytochemicals and fibers that prevent blood vessel inflammation, raise good cholesterol and lower blood glucose.

I snack on grapes when I’m chained to my desk blogging. Good thing I find them on the cheap! As a kid, my grandfather had an old-school Italian grapevine growing all over the garage. It was cool.

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Have Fewer Heart Attacks. Just Cut Salt a Little.

Salt is in everything! We all know that. And now a new study highlighted at the American Heart Association's Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention annual conference claims cutting salt just a little, only 1 gram, could result in 250,000 fewer new cases of heart disease. Experts say Americans consume 50% more salt than we did 40 years ago, between 9 to 12 grams of salt a day, most of it coming from processed food. Their research model determined 800,000 "life years" could be saved for every gram of salt eliminated from our diets; HealthDay News reports.

And here’s a pair of coincidental studies. Presented at the American Heart Association's Conference of the Council High Blood Pressure Research, scientists reported that cutting salt can help control high-blood pressure. Then in February research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a low-salt diet lowers systolic blood pressure and improves the ability of blood vessels to widen.

In related news, earlier research revealed people with metabolic syndrome have increased sensitivity to salt and higher blood pressure and a British study determined individuals who lowered salt intake were 25% less likely to develop heart disease. Long story short, don’t eat salt. Uh, duh!

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Flies and Chicken Poop Spreading Super Bugs!

New findings in the journal Science of the Total Environment claim flies flitting around chicken crap help spread drug-resistant superbugs. Test samples matched antibiotic-resistant bacteria on houseflies and poop found at intensive poultry-farming barns in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Flies spread all sorts of nastiness, such as cholera and salmonellosis. As many as 30,000 flies buzz in and out of poultry-houses every six weeks; Reuters reports.

In December, a study revealed trucks transporting chickens along highways leave behind a trail of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, setting up a health risk for people traveling these routes and individuals living nearby. Then last month Japanese researchers determined 20% of their poultry is contaminated with salmonella. Other countries only post 4% to 9%.

In the U.S. we eat sick or injured animals all the time. Warning! This video is graphic, but you’ll see how cattle ranchers and slaughterhouses feed us cows with infected tumors, chickens living in feces and pigs pumped with antibiotics. No, no human health risks there!


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Abnormal Heart Rhythm Increases Death-Risk in Diabetics

The new study published in the European Heart Journal involved 11,140 participants with type-2 diabetes. Data at the beginning of the study claims risk of death due to atrial fibrillation, i.e. irregular heart heat, was 61%. The risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke was 77% and 68% for heart failure. However, researchers determined these risks could be lowered if doctors prescribed aggressive treatments to diabetic patients with atrial fibrillation, in this case blood pressure-lowering drugs; via HealthDay News.

Relax, drugs aren’t the only option. Superior nutrition, i.e. lots of fruits and vegetables, has amazing cardio-protective effects, like rejuvenating blood vessels. High-nutrient diets are more effective than drugs at reserving heart disease and preventing diabetes.

In related news, studies have linked diabetes with heightened risk Alzheimer's disease, zinc, a nutrient found in peas, broccoli and kale, lowers the risk of diabetes in women and now the U.S. has 3 million more people with diabetes than in 2005. Eek!

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Diabetes: Brits Get Drugs Before Better Diet

In the United Kingdom 1 in 3 people with diabetes are given medication too soon, instead of being encouraged to eat better and exercise. The study, presented at a Diabetes UK conference, revealed 36% of the 650 people studied were put on medication within 1 month of being diagnosed, despite medical guidelines recommending lifestyle changes be tried first. Startling when you consider 400 people a day are diagnosed with type-2 diabetes in the United Kingdom; BBC News investigates.

This is sad, especially in light of all the research linking diet to diabetes, such as the dangers of drinking soda and the benefits of eating vegetables. Consuming a lot of high-fiber, high-nutrient foods, i.e. fruits and veggies, improves pancreatic function and lowers insulin resistance, allowing glucose levels to return to normal range without medications.

The UK’s had a rough go of it. Health officials recently urged people to buy less saturated fat and Prince Charles blasted junk food for children’s disconnect with nature, but luckily they’ve enlisted Wallace and Gromit to help fight obesity and improve health!

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Heart Disease, Obesity, Diabetes Increase Dementia Risk

New findings in the Archives of Neurology reveal obesity, along with heart disease and diabetes heighten the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. In a series of studies researchers examined over 10,000 individuals with conditions such as obesity and determined those participants with metabolic syndrome-related ailments had reduced cognitive function later in life, leading to Alzheimer's; HealthDay News reports.

Dr. Fuhrman insists a diet rich in green vegetables helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, while diets low in vegetables and high in meat actually increase the likelihood of developing dementia. Exercise has also been shown to protect against dementia.

But we’re still a whacked out country! In 2008, the number of Americans with Alzheimer's reached 5 million. Although later in the year it was discovered internet searches can keep our brains healthy, but I don’t think that includes looking for funneh LOLcats.

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Lose Weight. Avoid Fast Food. Walk Lots.

A new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology determined people living in towns with high-concentrations of fast food restaurants ate more fast food and gained more weight, but people from neighborhoods that required a lot of walking to get around, lost weight. Experts surveyed over 1,200 residents of Portland, Oregon, ages 50 to 75, tracking key markers such as body weight, eating habits and physically activity, and discovered people surrounded by fast food had a weight increase of 3 pounds, but those doing a lot of walking had a weight decrease of 2.7 pounds in one year; ScienceDaily reports.

Strikingly similar to last month’s study linking high-density of fast food restaurants in a neighborhood to 13% higher risk of stroke among residents and this is related to yesterday’s post about the lack of healthy foods being sold in low-income communities.

And a previous report showed kids’ whose school is within walking distance of fast food restaurants are more likely to be obese and drink soda. But come on. At the end of the day there’s no gun to your head, no one’s forcing you to eat fast food!

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Healthy Foods Hard to Find in Poor Neighborhoods

According to a new study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition retailers in low income communities are less likely to sell healthy food, such fruits and vegetables. Stores in wealthier areas tend to offer healthier fare. Researchers examined survey data from 759 Baltimore, Maryland residents and discovered 24% of blacks lived in neighborhoods with limited access to healthy food, compared to only 5% of whites. Experts propose offering tax breaks to stores in poorer areas for selling healthier food or distributing cash subsides so residents can buy fruits and veggies; HealthDay News reports.

Sadly, this predicament is very common. More and more supermarkets are moving out of New York City, leaving low income residents with small bodegas and drugs stores mostly selling junk food and few, if any, fresh fruits and vegetables. To make matters worse, many of these neighborhoods are already wrought with fast food, deepening local epidemics of heart disease and diabetes.

In related news, people living in communities with a lot of fast food restaurants were found to have an increased risk of stroke. Overall likelihood was 13% higher and increased 1% per restaurant.

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High Blood Pressure Makes it Hard for Kids to Think

If you’re kid can’t concentrate. He might have high blood pressure. New research in the Journal of Pediatrics claims children with hypertension struggle with complicated tasks and have more memory problems than kids with normal blood pressure. The study involved 32 children, ages 10 to 18, newly diagnosed with hypertension, and paired them up with 32 kids with normal blood pressure. Parents of both sets of kids were surveyed to determine their children’s mental aptitude and data revealed the hypertensive group performed more poorly and had more anxiety and depression; ScienceDaily investigates.

Many people don’t realize it, but heart disease starts young. Dr. Fuhrman explains that lipoprotein abnormalities, i.e. problems with high LDL and low HDL, associated with heart attack deaths in adulthood, begin in childhood and bad foods habits, like eating a lot of saturated fat, are established when you’re a kid. That’s why it’s important for the whole family to eat healthfully, that way everyone can avoid heart disease and high blood pressure.

But some health officials would sooner put kids on statins than educate them and their parents on the benefits of improved nutrition. Fortunately, other experts call giving kids statins a monumental failure.

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Low-Calorie Veggies Outwit "Obesity Gene"

Eating low calorie foods may offset genes strongly associated with obesity. Printed in PLoS ONE, experts studied 2,275 children, finding kids who consumed an energy (or calorie) dense diet, such as fatty foods, had more fat mass after 3 years. Researchers then looked to see if children carrying the obesity gene had an increased risk of getting fat with a high energy diet. They did not. Meaning the effects of eating a low-energy diet, more fruits and vegetables, may not be impaired by genetics; EurekAlert reports.

Another report indicated kids with a certain gene variant are more likely to consume junk food, such as sweets, which can lead to weight gain. But I guess ditching the sweets and eating more fruit and veggies would squash this gene too. So can family lifestyle! If a family eats healthfully, it reduces the risk of obesity linked to family history.

Fruits and vegetables are excellent low-calorie foods, specifically green veggies. Foods like Romaine lettuce, broccoli, kale and Swiss chard are low-energy and highly nutritious!


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Health-Points: Friday 3.6.09

  • More gross news from the infamous peanut plant responsible for the deadly salmonella outbreak stemming from contaminated peanut butter, investigators claim dead mice and rodent droppings were found throughout a Texas plant run by the company; from Reuters.
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Beta Carotene Supplements May Increase Lung Cancer Risk

Published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, a new 10-year analysis of more than 77,000 adults, men and women ages 50 to 76, revealed long term use of high-dose beta carotene supplements may heighten the risk of lung cancer, especially in smokers. Scientists used questionnaires to assess participants’ intake of dietary supplements and then tracked them for the next four years. These findings mirror a 2007 study showing vitamin C and E and folate supplements do not decrease the risk of lung cancer; ScienceDaily explains.

According to Dr. Fuhrman high-dose beta carotene supplements interfere with the absorption of antioxidants, like carotenoids and other antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. This can increase cancer-risk. That’s why Dr. Fuhrman’s formulates his vitamins without beta carotene.

But getting beta carotene from veggies is just fine! Foods like carrots, mangos and oranges, as well as leafy greens like cabbage, Bok Choy and broccoli are loaded with beta carotene and other health-protecting antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Vitamins aren’t magic pills! Previous reports show vitamins alone can’t prevent heart disease or prostate cancer, i.e. a bacon cheese burger with a side of Centrum Silver isn’t healthy.

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Half of Irish Consumers Don't Read Food Labels

Irish consumers aren’t paying attention. A new survey by Ireland’s Nutrition and Health Foundation claims 61% of men and 40% of females never read nutrition labels before making a purchase. Experts questioned 536 people in local supermarkets and determined only 32% of those surveyed knew the difference between salt and sodium and only 10% understood the difference between energy and calories; Food Navigator reports.

Read nutrition facts carefully. Labels on many processed foods, like potato chips, are deceptive and sometimes contain too much salt even though they say sodium or contain trans-fat when the package reads trans-fat free. Scoundrels!

Ireland is consumed with national health, especially obesity. The government wants to limit the amount of Subway sandwich shops, saying their food is too high in calories.

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Good Foods, Bad Foods. Making Kids Mental!

When I was just a little blogger, my mom put the kibosh on a lot of foods. No chips. No bacon. No white bread. No fast food. No snack cakes. And I’m sure there were others, but I’m too emotionally scarred to remember. Now, did all this make be neurotic? No, never!

Sorry. Sarcasm doesn’t translate well in written form. But seriously, some doctors and nutritionists believe uber vigilant parents who classify certain foods as bad, such as salt and sugar, and other foods as good, like veggies, might be driving their kids crazy.

Some say parents can be too obsessive about their children’s diet and despite their good intentions cause food anxieties. Experts worry this can lead to clinical eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia, which have been diagnosed in increasing numbers among young people over the past two decades. In the past, weight-gain was the criteria for bad foods, like fat and sugar, but that has evolved into a broader concept of health concerns, such as diabetes, heart disease and hyperactivity; The New York Times investigates.

Personally, I wouldn’t say my mom’s food tyranny made me anxious. For the most part, it kept me in check. To this day I’ve never had Whiz. Even when I was fat and bloated I avoided the horrible foods. Sure, I ate poorly, but never Big Macs, nachos or Little Debbie.

Now, if I have kids—wow, I just got the chills—I’ll lead by example, like Dr. Fuhrman says. I’ll eat my veggies and encourage my kid to do the same. I won’t keep crap in the house. And if little Gerry asks, I’ll tell him other daddies let their kids eat junk because they’re mean. Kidding!

Via Slash Food.

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Hip Fractures Increase Mortality in Men and Women

I nearly broke a hip shoveling snow yesterday! But new research in the Journal of the American Medical Association claims older men and women, age 60 and older, are at higher risk of mortality, i.e. death, 5 to 10 years after sustaining low-trauma fractures to the hips. Participants had suffered a break between April 1989 and May 2007 and scientists determined the risk factors associated with mortality were the bone break, weak quadriceps, smoking and low physical activity; Journal Watch reports.

Busted hips aren’t part of life, unless you get hit by a truck or something. Watch your diet, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and avoid animal products, salt and caffeine. Get plenty of vitamin D, it boosts absorption of calcium. And exercise, toning muscles keeps bones strong. Try using a rowing machine, doing back extensions, and for women, wearing a weighted vest builds strength and burns calories.

Now, time for a shameless plug! If you’re a man or women worried about your bones and developing osteoporosis, check out Dr. Fuhrman’s new DVD. It’ll give you strong bones for life!

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Too Much Alcohol Might Put Mr. Peeps on the Fritz!

Okay guys, a few drinks with friends and flirting with girls might sound like a good time, but a new survey of 1,580 men suggests a correlation between drinking and erectile dysfunction (ED). Published in UroToday, the findings indicate if kept to the current guidelines drinking was associated with a low-risk of ED, which implies if you drink more you’ll have a greater risk of underperforming. But even if the risk is low, experts warn this is not encouragement to start drinking; Medical News Today explains.

Talk about a catch-22! Now, if you’re looking to live healthfully, boozing isn’t going to help. Previous studies link alcohol consumption with high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and belly fat. As for erectile dysfunction, ED is seen as a predicator of cardiovascular disease. So drink pomegranate juice instead, it’s good for your heart and your wiener. Yippee!

In related news, last week researchers determined women who drank just one glass of wine per day had an increased risk of cancer, in some cases as high as 22%.

Via Health and Men.

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Protein Possibly Links Mad Cow to Alzheimer's

While not claiming a direct link between mad cow and Alzheimer's disease, a new study in the journal Nature suggests prion protein, an infectious agent associated with the neurodegenerative illness Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human equivalent of mad cow, may relate to mad cow disease itself. Prion protein is a misfolded protein that can arise from genetic mutations or can be contracted by eating tainted meat, such as cattle infected with mad cow disease; The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

This summer South Koreans went berserk when officials began renegotiating beef imports with the U.S. fueled by fears over a 2003 outbreak of mad cow disease in the United States. Before that, the Bush administration backed a federal appeal to stop meatpackers from testing their animals for mad cow.

With in the past few years both the U.S. and Canada reported incidents of mad cow disease. I don’t eat red meat. I’m way too crazy already. Eek!

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Be Nice to Your Waitress. She's Drawing You.

I’m a good tipper. I’m not rich, just a soft touch. And, no pun intended, it pays to be cordial to your waiter or waitress. No, not because they’ll spit in your food, which is possible, be nice because they might draw a sketch of you and it put up on a website, like former waitress artist Anna Magnowka.

The first drawing reads, ““Me? No, not married, never been married. Free as a bird, heh heh, blood good catch, heh heh.” And the second one says, "Check this ring out. This would cost a year’s wage for you! See what you get if you find yourself a rich man…another glass of bubbly please.” How creepy.

Via SeriousEats.

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