Saturday, 24 December 2011

All in one.

Well, apparently they've found it. Cancer of the oesophagus is caused by everything. Smoking, drinking and easting. The smoking connection to heartburn demonstrates a startling lack of anatomical understanding unless there are people eating lit ones,  but then the heartburn link to cancer of the oesophagus is still a matter of conjecture. Acid reflux might be linked to cancer or it might not. The jury is still out on that one.


Reflux is the type of cancer which killed Christopher Hitchens and is seen as a growing danger

... is utter nonsense. Reflux is not cancer. It's not anything that the immune system can deal with.We all experience heartburn when we've overdone things. I haven't had it in years but like everyone else, I've had a dose of it. Some get it often and it hurts, it's unpleasant but nobody dies of it. One of the biggest causes is stress and continually telling people they are doing life wrong will cause lots of stress in those who believe it.

I knew Christopher Hitchens died of cancer. A great loss to the world. If it was cancer of the oesophagus then it probably wasn't smoking that did it. It could have been drink, he made me look like an apprentice boozer, but then again it could have been just plain bad luck. I heard his father died of the same cancer so it's possible he was always at high risk of it and tanking down the booze won't have helped reduce that risk.

One of my aunties died of cancer. Smoking? Maybe. There were seven on my father's side and all smoked, including the One Of Whom We Do Not Speak who is probably in prison somewhere. One dead, six alive, all old smokers, not quite the 50% early death rate we are led to expect. My mother's side has eight, some smokers, some not, none dead.

I can understand people being scared of cancer. It's nasty and a horrible way to die. But are we seriously to be scared of heartburn now? Don't they make Milk of Magnesia any more? Sure, for some it's an unpleasant regularity but for most of us it's an occasional uncomfortable inconvenience. It is, for most people, akin to living in fear of dandruff.

There are, at last, some who question these links.

Lately the DM is absolutely obsessed with linking cancer to obesity. Every day there is at least one new article about this. This focus is a little misplaced when 41% of cancers may be preventable by lifestyle changes compared to 80% of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. So to put things into perspective, most heart disease is preventable, while most cancers are not.
Me? No.


Rob F (not Dickie!) said...

We're all bound to die of something, so we might as well enjoy ourselves while we're here.

I know of someone who jogged every morning, did yoga,and was a vegetarian.

He's in a wheelchair now, because he suffered from a stroke (in his mid-forties, I think).

That's not to criticise his kind of lifestyle (I've done yoga myself and made a pathetic attempt at jogging for a while). If you enjoy that lifestyle, then go for it.

Just don't think that it will make you immortal, or immune from any of the afflictions that we outcast smokers, drinkers, and people who enjoy bacon sarnies might suffer from.

Leg-iron said...

I agree, there's nothing wrong with the yoga-and-tofu lifestyle. I don't want it but I would never seek to persuade anyone to live like me.

The problems arise with those who feel forced into it because they've been scared to death by doctors telling them that even associating with smokers, drinkers and chubbies will kill them.

Many of those people don't really want the gym-and-green-tea life but they believe they'll die if they don't live that way.

Then they get resentful and start with 'Well if I have to live this crappy way, everyone should have to'.

It's a common theme these days. people think 'I don't like this' but instead of then thinking 'I should change it', they think 'I have to suffer this, so everyone must'.

If that attitude changed, the world would change.

JuliaM said...

"But are we seriously to be scared of heartburn now? Don't they make Milk of Magnesia any more? "

Yes, and I'm sure there are still people who buy it.

The modern equivalent (or so I glean from the ads) is to pour two tiny pink and white firemen (in American firemen's uniforms, for some reason) down your throat.

*immediately stifles 'Deep Throat' imagery*

Sue said...

"All those fat people who delighted in sneering at smokers are now in the cross-hairs"...

And there are an awful lot more of "them fatties" than there are of us!

Neal Asher said...

They love trying to quantify these things and blame every ill under the sun to living 'incorrectly'. Of course the problem with cancer is a lot of people die from it now because they're not dying of tuberculosis etc. Doubtless once all the cancer are magic-bulleted we'll all be getting dementia because we didn't eat five-a-day.

Rob F said...


Surreptitious Evil said...

I'm told that if reflux leads to Barret's oesophagus, as it has with me, then there is a correlation with an increased risk of throat cancer. It's not a strong one and it hasn't led to them doing anything else than telling me to keep taking my reflux meds. They may "extend and embrace".

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