Wednesday 7 April 2010

Another one bites the dust

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.


  1. Quite right. I measure the efficacy of this stuff by observing Ronnie Wood, he of the alleged bottle of vodka per day.

    He is the poster boy for taking government advice and doing the opposite, and yet he's thriving. Once he keels over and there's proof the cause was ignoring HMG, then I'll take a long, hard look at myself...

  2. Just heard this one myself. What other health fallacy will be revealed next, I wonder? Not exceeding 3 - 4 units of alcohol a day, perhaps?

  3. @Paul Bailey

    I am afraid 3-4 is not enough, 4-5 is the optimal daily consumption.

    "One found that men drinking between 21 and 30 units of alcohol a week had the lowest mortality rate in Britain. Another concluded that a man would have to drink 63 units a week, or a bottle of wine a day, to face the same risk of death as a teetotaller."

    This Californian study found for every glass of red wine drunk per month your chances of contracting lung cancer went down by 2%. Hence 3 glasses a day is the call here, particularly smokers.

    "Results: There was a significant linear decrease in risk of lung cancer associated with consumption of red wine among ever-smokers: hazard ratio (HR), 0.98; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.96-1.00 for increase of 1 drink per month."

    If you want I can dig around on my database for studies that showed the best way of recovering after extreme exercise was beer and the way to avoid oesteoperosis (spelling) was to drink

    Hic, bottoms up!

  4. Reminiscent of the Woody Allen film "Sleeper"?

  5. For 45 years I would compliment my
    green rich diet with a 7 night a week session of 5-6 pints of Guiness,Beamish or Murphys dark.
    This kept me as frisky as a flea bitten ferret.Then some puritanical
    Harpies decided I should stand in an unlit ginnel for a smoke, For me
    and quite a few others it was,
    Ta Ra time. The pub is now being
    converted into a Bengali Spice
    Emporium after 154 years of unbroken service to local workers and soldiers. I still eat my greens
    but kicked the booze habit into
    touch. With the money saved I visit
    Spain 10-12 times a year,the veg is a lot fresher and am treated like a human being.


  6. Not statistically significant, that's been the exact finding the majority of the second-hand-smoke studies have concluded, including the largest ever done. Haven't heard anything in the mainstream reported on that bit of fact yet though. I wonder why.

  7. Does these mean I no longer require my daily bloody mary on health grounds?

  8. Kosher foods significantly reduce the risk of cancer. Just ask any
    Kohen Gadol.


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