A “>report has been published in the British Journal of Cancer. It concerns the possible causes of various, predictably enough, cancers. Fair enough and all well and good so far.
It is based on medical researchers doing correlations and statistical analysis rather than any clinical tests, that is always prone to possible mis-interpretation, but it is not unreasonable to take the findings at face value.
It finds that lifestyle choices influence your likelihood of getting certain forms of cancer. That smoking is the main cause of lung cancer and second but far behind is a lack of fruit and vegetables in the diet possibly responsible for oesophageal or gullet cancer, half of the risk comes from eating too little fruit and veg. too much salt in the diet a possible cause of Stomach cancer. Way down there under 5% is drinking too much alcohol and being overweight.
Useful information if taken sensibly, along with other studies that show moderate levels of alcohol seem to be actually beneficial.
So what is apparently the knee jerk reaction of the Royal College of Physicians? True to form a demand for authoritarian legislation. Their president, Sir Richard Thompson, claimed the findings were a “wake-up call to the government” to take stronger action on public health.
He stated that rising incidence of preventable cancers showed that the 'carrot' approach of voluntary agreements with industry is not enough to prompt healthy behaviours, and needs to be replaced by the 'stick' approach of legislative solutions,"
Maybe Sir Richard Thompson’s intentions are good, but his instincts seem to be to order, to force and that is not.
Diane Abbott, Longstanding New Labour luminary and current Shadow Public Health Minister, said: "The government is failing on all the main public health issues.”
So let’s leave aside ideas of punitive taxation of burgers and sweets, making it illegal to smoke anywhere else or legislating illegal anti competitive minimum prices for alcohol for a moment. Lets rewind.
That reflexive authoritarian statist demand that the government get involved, do more.
Exactly what business of the state is it if I want a glass of wine after dinner in the fist place?
OK so I am not as fit or as skinny as I used to be but I can see how it is my business, maybe my “significant other”, my tailor even, but the Government?
The only justification I can see is how much I might cost the state. Possibly in increased pension payments from a scheme that I am basically forced by law to pay into by the Government if, I live significantly longer due to good lifestyle choices. Or increased medical costs from a scheme that I am basically forced by law to pay into, use it or not, by the Government.
So the only real justification for the State to be involved, apart possibly from the odd public health warning, is how much I cost systems that they force me to participate in and thus cost er - well me.