Thursday, 2 December 2010
Smoking and The Lumps.
Over at Frank Davis's place, there is a discussion on smoking and lung cancer. Not the antismoker 'you will all get lungs lumpier than badly-made custard that's gone cold in a sock' diatribe, but a reasoned and civil discussion. Where smoking is concerned, that is in itself astounding. The argument is 'Does smoking cause lung cancer?' All contributions welcomed. Except the custard in a sock brigade. We've heard enough from the parrots, thanks.
I haven't commented because I'm sort of in the middle on this one. As a smoker, I know there are risks to what is essentially an unnatural behaviour. I'm not going to claim it's natural, because it's not. It's just as bizarre as spraying yourself with perfumed chemicals so you don't smell human or using moose pheromones to attract a mate and in this weather, you are taking a serious risk with that one.
Drinking alcohol, well, even wasps do that. See them at the end of their season, gorging on fermenting fruit then picking a fight with whoever happens by even if they are a thousand times their size. Those insects are plastered when they waver around in front of you. If you could speak wasp you'd hear 'See you pal, you're fookin deid, so y' are. See me. See my arse. See sting. I've got a fookin sting in me arse, so I have. See you. You're gettin' it, so y' are.' All they are missing is the string vest and head bandage and evolution has made a start with stripes already. All wasps are Glaswegian, by the way. It's been proved by evolutionary scientists. I don't want to get all technical on a side issue, but I will tell you this. Being guttered is natural, so there y' are.
Cows who get hold of the right kind of grain at the right time of year will ferment it in their rumens and get utterly pissed by producing their own booze internally. Cows are not as stupid as they appear. You can't tax it if it forms in the gut. But back to smoking...
Frank has made the point that since the discovery of fire we have all been inhaling smoke up until the invention of central heating. He is right on that point. Nonsmokers enjoy a barbecue, bonfire, chimenea, log or coal fire, all of us are comfortable watching a controlled burn because it's always been part of human life. We are acclimatised to smoke. Even Wrinkly Gillian, the unhealthiest-looking health freak on the planet, was able to stand in campfire smoke while having a hysterical episode at Shaun Ryder's little bit of burning leaf. Smoke, in and of itself, is part of human life. We live by fire. The containment of that fire inside a central heating boiler is an extremely recent adjustment.
I'm not sure it's such a good thing. I remember having to get up in the freezing cold, lay a coal fire and then wait until it heated the room. Just the room. The rest of the house took a lot longer to warm up even slightly. Usually, the previous night's ashes had to be removed before the new fire was laid and that was done while frost formed on the inside of single-glazed windows. Now, we set the heating to come on half an hour before we have to get up. We were tougher in those days.
However, sticking leaves in our faces and burning them is another level. It seems logical to me that there are risks in smoking. Sure, there are claims that we have an increased risk of lung cancer but the overall risk of cancer isn't all that great. The biggest cause is getting old, which we do much more of than we used to. Cancer cells arise in all of us all the time. Sunlight does it, life does it, everything does it. Our immune systems take care of these rogue cells but as we age, our immune systems prefer the pipe and slippers to the roaming vigilante life and the cancer cells get a chance to reach out-of-control levels.
Really, the biggest cause of death in the world is getting too old to be alive any more. What you do in between popping out and popping your clogs should really be your choice because you don't get another go. Individual life should be left to the individual. Not to some massive-foreheaded lunatic whose head is rented out as an echo chamber, not to some smoker who hates himself almost as much as he hates the rest of us, and certainly not to the talking horse with the frizzy mane and the hayseed brain. I know the risk, I take the risk. If I ever need the NHS, I've already paid for it and I have the stuff that will help me get through that experience without shitting myself to death. My risk of long-term possible cancer is nothing compared to the NHS's supply of free-at-the-point-of-infection deadly diseases.
Even so, deliberately inhaling smoke can't be good for me. Whether it's bad for me is a different question. It is certainly not as bad for me as the smokophobes claim. Smokers do not, by far, all die a horrible death. Most just die of something else but as commenters have pointed out, if they die as smokers, they are included as 'smoking deaths' even if they fall off a ladder. There are no vegan deaths. Vegans don't do such base and coarse things. Unless they are smoking vegans and yes, smoking is an entirely animal-free activity.
I'm watching the discussion at Frank's with interest but I'm on neither side at the moment. It seems to me that smoking has the potential to cause cancer but there are so many things to inhale in the modern world that it's not so easy to say 'this causes that' and just expect everyone to accept it. Besides, as the image above shows, it's a war on smokers and so why would we believe anything we're told by those who have stated they want us dead?
Frank's discussion is worth your time if you have any interest in the smoking argument at all, so here it is -
It's far from over.
Posted by Leg-iron at 01:24