Another sacred cow of Healthism has been slaughtered with the news that scientists have discovered that the magic “five a day” portions of fruit and veg won’t in practice do much if anything to reduce the risk of cancer. A massive study covering over 500,000 people has shown that the reduction in risk is a mere 2.5%, which falls well short of being statistically significant.
Now, in broad terms, eating plenty of fruit and veg isn’t a bad idea. But the problem with this – and the “healthy drinking” guidelines – is that what in itself is reasonable advice becomes twisted into a logical fallacy, that if X is safe, therefore it follows that anything that is not X is unsafe. Eating your five a day may be a kind of dietary ideal, but in practice falling short of it is unlikely to do you much harm. Plenty of people live perfectly long and healthy lives without ever even approaching that figure.