Life – it's a killer!

The latest news is that being on the pill actually protects you from cancer of the large bowel, uterus and ovaries. As long as you only take it for less than 8 years. Hurrah – pill me up Doc!

Oh, but hang on. What about breast cancer? Or cervical cancer? Oh yes, that’s right, taking an oral contraceptive apparently increases that particular risk.

Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

This latest ambiguous headline reminded me of the big pill scare of 1995, when thousands of women immediately stopped taking their pills after reading sensationalist newspaper headlines claiming that they were all practically walking corpses. The findings that certain pills doubled your risk of developing blood clots in your legs was scary enough to result in a surge of unwanted pregnancies and a 9% rise in the number of abortions.
I remember it well…on attending my university medical centre for a meningitis jab, the nurse was horrified to read in my notes that I was taking one of the third-generation pills, and demanded I stop taking it immediately because it was going to kill me. The look on her face said that I just might drop dead on her floor at any second, and she sure as hell didn’t want to have to clean that particular mess up.

The irony is that although women on the pill are at a 3 – 5 times greater risk than women who avoid hormonal contraception, being pregnant increases your risk 12-fold.
Of course, that isn’t a very sexy tagline to your big bold PILL WILL KILL headline.

Yet again, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Which got me thinking about all the other things that will kill you…but then again, probably won’t.

Eating red meat will apparently double your risk of developing colon cancer. But reduce your risk of diabetes.

Drinking alcohol causes about half a dozen different cancers. But a regular dose of red wine will stop you being felled by that damn heart attack.

A huge study has just found that using mobile phones might cause cancer. But then again, they might not. Best not let your toddler use one, just in case. But on the other hand, having that Nokia tucked away in your pocket might just save you from a random bullet, or from starvation at sea (I really want to know what make of mobile was still functioning and able to pick up a signal after 22 days out on the ocean…)

The worst headline I read today, to add to the list of things that will kill you…

Oral sex can cause throat cancer

Bugger it, let’s call some friends on their mobiles, get them round for a barbecue, get really drunk and… do a little scientific study of our own. I promise to let you know what gets us first.

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