I watched a television programme last night.

I didn't really mean to watch it but I couldn't find the remote control to switch it off [it has slipped down behind the cushion again], but once it started I carried on watching.

It was one of those mildly irritating programmes on health where they try to explain to us in words of one syllable why we should take more exercise, stop smoking and all the usual yadda yadda stuff.  One of the slots they did was about cooking oils and which is safest to cook with.  Apparently when heated, oil becomes a deadly carcinogenic or something so they tested to see which one came out best and which was worst.  According to their test results, the healthiest thing to fry with is butter, and the worst is olive oil.  You live and learn?  Anyhows, after that result I started concentrating a bit more.

They got onto the subject of preventative medicine and in particular, cancer.

They talked about breast cancer and interviewed an expert who stated that for every life they saved, they probably put twenty others through needless surgery and misery.

They talked about prostate cancer where they use a blood test [Doc insists in bleeding me for that every year], which shows the presence of the cancer but doesn’t indicate how virulent it is.  As a result, victims are trundled off for surgery [which results in impotence and incontinence] when the chances are they probably have a mild form that won't kill them until they are already dead, as it were.  So they have to spend the rest of their lives pissing themselves and forgetting about any more rumpy pumpy, and all for nothing.

The general consensus seemed to be that all this screening was fine but it tends to generate more harm and panic, compared to the lives that are potentially saved.  Their bottom line was that it would be far better if the health service stopped all these health prevention measures and concentrated the cash and effort on finding proper cures for those that actually have the ailment or disease.  I could drink [and smoke] to that.

Through the course of the programme, the lead presenter kept nipping off for various tests that the neurotic can have performed on themselves.  He went for heart scans, MRI scans, x-rays, DNA tests and a load of others that people love to waste their money on.  Each result told him that he was fine [though several advised him to go on Statins – the latest great Pharma gimmick] except for the last.  He was told that according to a DNA test that he was had a high probability of developing Dementia, or Parkinson's [can’t remember which].  So he now has to spend the rest of his days worrying about the potential without being able to do a damned thing about it.

If some oracle stopped me in the street and asked me if I wanted to know my future, I'd tell 'em to fuck off.  If I am at high risk of dying from some particular disease I don't want to know about it.  If I am going to be struck by a runaway lorry I would prefer to discover the fact when the radiator has mere inches to go before splattering me over the tarmac.

So stop nagging me about how I can prolong my life, and sticking needles in me so you can prescribe medicines with horrible side-effects.  The oracle may know my due date but I don't and nor do you.  Maybe I'll hit the Guinness Book of Records for longevity but probably won't.  I am really not interested.

There ain't no point in giving up all the pleasures in life only to be hit by a truck? 

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Cure is better than prevention — 11 Comments

  1. Gave up listening to medical advice decades ago: it was that rot about bacon causing cancer.

    Give up bacon? When it's been scientifically proved to alleviate hangovers? I think not.


    • My Doc [as distinct from yourself] knows better than to try giving me advice.  In fairness to him, he has never once mentioned diet, smoking or exercise.  His only suggestion last time was that I drink more stout.  Some advice is very hard to take?

      Best cure for a hangover – A few rashers of bacon, a few sausages, mushrooms, some black pudding, a fried egg or two, fried bread all fried up in lashings of fat.  Never fails.  You'd even feel like a pint or two after……

  2. I cook with both olive oil and butter, depending on what I'm cooking. Olive oil is cheap here, and is delicious (especially the stuff from Kalamata), so I use lashings of it. It doesn't seem to have carcinogenified me yet.

    As for tests, a friend of mine (stop me if I've posted this before – it's quite likely…) once tried to persuade me to go for an annual 'MOT'. He went every year, "and it only costs a couple of hundred Euros" he told me.


    My response was that in all honesty, I didn't really want to know what potential might-never-happen results might come up, and for sure they'd tell me I had to stop drinking and smoking and I'd worry (maybe) about dying tomorrow. Who needs that kind of stress? It's enough to give you high blood pressure! As an aside, my friend, who had been a real hell-raiser, had given up smoking and drinking as a result of these tests, and was a shadow of his former self. In fact, he had become thoroughly boring.

    So thanks, but no thanks. If something goes wrong, I shall visit the doc to see if he can fix it. Otherwise, I will be staying well away.

    • @ Nisakiman

      Ditto with myself. Use both butter (how the heck else do I make scrambled eggs?) and Olive Oil.

      Trouble is the average "olive oil" you can buy in the UK is what might be classed in Greece as utter junk. Once saw 250 ml bottles of "olive oil" in Poundland.

      Good stuff that might pass muster in a second rate Taverna with grilled feta and fresh Greek bread costs about £6.50 for 0.5 litre.

      ​You never ever see the real stuff that's only been pressed. Nothing else, no dilution, no additives, just olive oil with all the green pulp at the bottom of the bottle. Your average Brit would avoid that and also bottles that have gone cloudy because they're too cold.

      Not only is it a great taste and excellent for your heart, it also fries stuff brilliantly, but only on medium heat. That's the problem with these "researchers", they don't know about slow cooking.

      • I buy 5 litre tins of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil for about €20 (£15) from a wholesaler. It's excellent stuff – dark green with peppery overtones. It's good enough to use for just dipping fresh bread in it. Yum! And yes, it goes cloudy if it gets cold! 🙂

  3. “Their bottom line was that it would be far better if the health service stopped all these health prevention measures and concentrated the cash and effort on finding proper cures for those that actually have the ailment or disease”


    Now there’s an idea for the UK’s NHS!   As the NHS is (so it keeps telling us) so woefully cash-strapped, maybe what our wonderful Government should do is split it into two organisations – the NHS, which could concern itself with (what should be) its primary purpose (and the purpose that the vast majority of people actually want it for) of treating people who are actually already ill or who are injured; and there could be this other branch – maybe called the National Illness Prevention Service (NIPS for short) which deals with all the “preventative” stuff like screening, MOTs, quit smoking groups, dietary advice etc etc.  This would leave the genuine “curers” free to concentrate on “curing,” but would still give an opportunity for the “curer-turned-lecturer” a role to play (which would please them and thus keep them quiet, at least at first). 


    They could start out by giving the NIPS however much taxpayer money it is currently getting but then, if money became really tight, they could simply “close off” bits of it, on the basis that, when the chips are really down, it’s the luxuries one has to cut back on first, in order to ensure that there are sufficient funds remaining for the essentials – that’s just life; anyone who’s ever run a household budget can work that one out.  Not enough food for the groceries?  OK, then, cut out the planned holiday or the new car.  NIPS services could, of course, always be re-instated once times and finances improved. 


    In the wake of any cuts, there would, of course, be howls of protests from those currently working in the NIPS-type services, citing “long term” benefits and “future generations,” but the hard fact is that it really isn’t much good offering preventative health care with an eye on some whimsical date in the far-flung future if all around you people who are already very ill are dying for want of proper care and resources.

    • Curative [as distinct from preventative] medicine seems to have the ability to overrun any allocated budget so maybe it would be a better idea to just scrap the preventative stuff altogether?  It's one of those things that is brilliant in theory but doesn't quite work in practice.

  4. I watched it too, very interesting in the light of my own experience. About 25 years ago I had a mammogram which indicated I had a pre cancerous condition and they wanted to do surgery to remove the suspect tissue. I can't explain it but every fibre of my body said don't do it. I decided to pay to see a Breast cancer specialist who, after doing another mammogram, said it was nothing than any woman who had a child would show. Every test since has been clear so I would have been subjected to unnecessary surgery and possibly further treatments. I have been suspicious of these screening tests ever since.

    • I'm glad your experience worked out well!  The problem with these quick diagnoses though is that not only do they cause a lot of undue stress but often result in unnecessary operations which have their own consequences which in many cases are life-long.

      Preventative medicine sounds all nice and cuddly and deserving of vast funding but I really have my reservations.

  5. I cook in butter – but when it goes brown and delicious, it is making diacetyl – the chemical that is in e liquid that vapers are trying to get removed so they don't breathe it in. Life is dangerous yes? 

    I saw the the same program. I think all the attention to ill health and trying to get people to live a "healthy" lifestyle, just makes people sick. We seem obsessed with illness. Very unhealthy I think. Sometimes ignorance is far more healthy!

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