Friday, January 06, 2017

Unhealthy Advice

I thought that today I'd respond to some of the vital questions recently posed by the press.  The Guardian, for instance, asks 'Is it time to give up sugar?'  The answer, obviously, is 'no', followed by 'now fuck off'.  Unless, that is, you are some kind of sanctimonious kill-joy who likes to spend their time telling the rest of us how everything we enjoy is bad, so we have to stop it.  According to this article, 'sugar induces the same responses in the brain as nicotine, cocaine and alcohol', as if that's a bad thing.  After all, the reason people smoke, take drugs or drink, at first at least, is because they enjoy it -doing these things is a pleasurable experience.  Unlike smoking, drugs and booze, sugar has the advantage of not being addictive.  Sure, it carries its own health risks - it can rot your teeth, contribute to obesity and late onset diabetes - but, overall, this seem to me to be less catastrophic than cancer, lung disease, kidney failure, heart problems and sclerosis of the liver, which the other stuff can contribute to.  Not, of course, that any of those things are an inevitable consequence of drinking, smoking or taking drugs.  Indeed, like everything else, done in moderation, they are probably relatively harmless, (cue hordes of experts telling me the terrible effects of smoking even a single cigarette). 

I'm at an age when every ache, pain or minor illness is, according to medical opinion, a possible signifier of something more serious and potentially life-threatening.  Every time I watch TV there seems to be some public health ad or another warning, for instance, that a persistent cough could be a symptom of lung cancer.  (Or, it could just be a persistent cough).   You end up checking your urine for blood, worrying whether an upset stomach is a sign of bowel cancer or that headaches are precursors to brain tumours.  Believe me, it sucks all the joy out of life.  Things aren't helped by realising that you are also now the target audience for all those ads about taking out insurance to cover your funeral expenses.  So those little pleasures in life, such as alcohol or a bacon sandwich, suddenly become more important: they can temporarily lift the gloom generated by all the health warnings and intimations of mortality being beamed at us by the media.  Yet we're even being warned off of these now.  Bacon is evil and will clog up your arteries, whilst drinking even a single pint of beer will destroy your liver.  I suddenly found myself reclassified as a heavy drinker when, following that alarmist report last year, the government decided to revise its guidelines on recommended weekly alcohol consumption, yet I'm lucky if I manage to drink half a dozen pints of beer a week.  And now I'm to be deprived even a sugar rush on health grounds! 

What I really object to in all these health scare tactics is that they treat me (and everyone else) like an idiot, as if we can't grasp the fact that imbibing these substances carry a risk.  Of course they involve a degree of risk but, like everything else we do in life, it is surely up to us to decide whether we consider that risk acceptable or not.  Every time I cross the road, I incur the risk of being run over, but I can lessen that risk by applying my judgement as to when traffic is lightest, or by finding a pedestrian crossing.  It's the same with, say, alcohol.  I can choose to regulate my intake, not drink every day, not drink super-strength brain rotting lager.  Besides, with the media telling me that I'm about to die horribly from some disease or another, I might as well kill myself doing something I enjoy, like drinking beer, or eating sugar-filled doughnuts. 



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