Saturday, April 9, 2011

Life is fatal

Apparently it has now been “scientifically proven” that having more than one drink a day increases your risk of getting cancer. However, given that the article doesn’t say by how much it increases the risk, it’s not something I’m going to spend much time worrying about. As one commenter says, “If it goes from 1 chance in 1010 up to 1 in 1000 I think most people wouldn't care.” Even a 50% increase in a minuscule risk is still minuscule.

If you listened to all the scare stories, you’d never eat anything, as apparently everything from salt through salami to sardines is going to give you cancer. Of course, if you take it all to heart, you run the risk of suffering from orthorexia, which is just as bad for you, and far less fun. If you wrap yourself in cottonwool all the time you will live a very dull and circumscribed life.

Leg-iron has it right when he says that all these increasingly shrill and hysterical health claims are likely to just make people sceptical about all scientific claims, even those that are entirely valid. If you take it all at face value, you end up like his Mr Plastic:

Plastic Man is the Government's vision of the future. Married, two drone kids (hey, a beehive would reject these two as being too droney), follows the Life Plan to the letter, no smoking, no drinking, meals on time, work on time, home on time, in the garden at set times, lawn trimmed to perfection, car parked within inches of the target, washed and rust-free (I never owned a rust-free one. I was Hammerite's best customer for years). In bed by ten, television watched and assimilated, the News is True, war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength... is that a fun life or is that just living for the sake of it?
This study will, though, inevitably be used as ammunition to call for even higher duties and more curbs on alcohol consumption. Of course, the Holy Grail of “alcohol science” is proof that any quantity whatsoever is dangerous, which would strip away the figleaf of “safe levels” and open up a whole new field of restriction and demonisation. Even this report is being used to suggest that the current “safe drinking guidelines” – which are absurdly low and completely without scientific foundation – are actually too high! You can just visualise Professor Ian Gilmore polishing his jackboots when he says “If we really want to see preventable deaths coming down in the next decade or so, I think there will have to be some form of tougher regulation by government.”