November 8th, 2007


there is NO SAFE DOSE for bacon

Remember that thing about the health thing last weekend? You know, the one that said that you should avoid taking vitamin supplements and that bacon gives you cancer (OK, OK, I know it didn't really say that but it came PERILOUSLY CLOSE). Here's the BBC's article on the topic. Why they chose to focus on weight rather than the rather more contentious bacon issue, I don't know, but it ties in with the Beeb's usual thindoctrination attitudes (check out their Health section if you don't believe me (ooh, that's a CITATION NEEDED point, isn't it? I'll go look.)

Earlier this year, their section on controlling your weight started with "most people could do with losing about 10lbs", leading me to absolutely rule it out as an information source for young women anxious about their weight. But it looks like it's been improved since then, thank goodness.

Which is just as well, considering today's news, because it turns out that if you really want to avoid cancer, you should be overweight. Most at risk were the underweight, and the normal weight people -- well, you might as well be obese, fankly:

"But, contrary to expectations, the obese did not have an increased risk of dying from cancer. They were slightly more likely than people of normal weights to die of a handful of cancers that are thought to be related to excess weight — cancers of the colon, breast, esophagus, uterus, ovary, kidney and pancreas. Yet they had a lower risk of dying from other cancers, including lung cancer. In the end, the increases and decreases in cancer risks balanced out."

(Which you might think was down to a few obvious reasons, but they did adjust for smokers and people who were already ill and the effect remained.)

So, there you are. Want to be healthy? Aim for BMI-overweight. It shouldn't be hard because most of you are already (with the exception of my various gamine and/or ectomorphic pals). Last year, on the menorrhagia diet, I dipped down into BMI-normal for the first time in my life, and I looked gaunt. I remember being startled by the people (some colleagues, relatives, my mum) who told me how well I was looking. Thinner, yes -- but well? Still, burning the excess butter was worth it. I bounced back fast from illness and injury.

Hmm, could there be a lesson about being overweight and illness here?