Page last updated at 06:42 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 07:42 UK

Scrubbing up: Your comments

In this week's Scrubbing Up risk expert David Spiegelhalter, says even those habits linked to risk can have benefits - and maybe people should be a little easier on themselves.

Spiegelhalter says we need to look at the whole picture before trying to get people to change what they do. Everything has benefit and harms so people need to be able to find their own balance.

What do you think? Here are some of the comments you have been sending in to this week's Scrubbing up.


At last, a bit of common sense. We're all going to die of something and that something is likely to cost the NHS money. For instance, a person might avoid a quick death from a heart attack but then have a stroke which keeps them bedridden at vast expense to the NHS for several years. Advice on the effects of various intakes varies almost from week to week so in the end you wonder whether all these experts really know what they're talking about. Milk, eggs, coffee, wine, cholesterol - one minute they're lethal, the next they're okay after all. The only ingested substances that seem to be proven to be universally harmful are excess alcohol and cigarette smoke. Eat, drink and be merry in moderation and you'll be fine.
Sue Mowat, Dunfermline, Scotland

With the wealth of information available in all formats we should be allowed to self select and not be told what to eat and what not to eat.
Alan, Barnehurst

It is all well and good following advice and eating healthily but who says you won't choke to death on a fish bone or catch something nasty from a badly prepared chicken? Eat and drink a little of what you like, who knows, on the next trip to town you may have a close encounter with a car driven by someone uninsured who has not even passed their driving test and 'BAM' all your healthy living is for nothing.
Mark Abbott, Thrapston, England

I heartily agree with this sentiment. For most of my adult life I have ignored the diets that my colleagues seem to constantly follow. Instead I stick to good old-fashioned commonsense. I firmly believe that having butter on my toast is not going to kill me but it will certainly taste a whole lot better than some of the alternatives which I can only describe as YUK! Commonsense and moderation; you just can't beat them! (How many other women could still fit in their wedding dress on their silver wedding anniversary?).
Fiona Potter, Billericay UK

One of the most harmful things to your health is stress and anxiety, including the stress of worrying about your health. Every time I hear the health warnings I remember a report in the Nursing Times, about ten years ago, on the findings of a piece of research and it stops my anxiety in its tracks. The findings of this serious piece of research was that "smokers are less likely than non-smokers to suffer from Alzheimer's disease". Hilarious given that the older you get the more likely you are to get Alzhiemer's, and that smoking is likely to cut your life short. Proof, every time, to me that laughter is the best medicine.
Carol Golightly, Liverpool

Everything in moderation!
Peter Barnsley, Lichfield

People in the UK have no perception of risk and when you see the way that certain institutions gather their evidence, it becomes obvious that the experts are delivering more disinformation than fact.
Lee, Bedford UK

It's true to say that all food is good, including bacon. However, it's the preservatives and additives in 'modern' food that can harm us. Also, professor please never cycle without a helmet because that's not risk-taking but plain silly for you and any driver who may have an accident with you who has to live with the harm caused to you.
Angelina, Cambridge

I'll take 50 years of greasy food, alcohol, drugs and uninhibited sex over 80 years of salad, exercise and monogamy any day. You only live once.
John F., Glasgow, Lanarkshire

So, I eat muesli and lots of fruit and vegetables, drink in moderation and run most days but I also ride a motorbike and fly a micro-light. I've also studied statistics and risk. What does that make me?
Forlorne Hope, Devon

Eat what you want, you only live once as long as it's not in excess, you wont have a problem. A balanced diet and the odd curry or bacon sandwich cannot do you any harm!
Liam, Aberdeen, Scotland

Forget all the warnings. You only live once. Enjoy yourself but be sensible with it. We have a full English breakfast every weekend but I then go to the stables and burn most of it off. So pig out if you want but exercise after.
Sue Reaper, Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire

A little bit of what you like, in moderation, does you good. People just don't know what moderation is anymore; once in a while, not every day!
Amy, Glasgow

How are we to know how to choose what is good and what is bad? We're told five fruit or vegetables a day, then told broccoli is bad or oranges will rot your teeth. Alcohol stops some problems but creates others. A guy who eats nothing but bacon sandwiches is heading for problems. Someone who eats and drinks all things in moderation surely shouldn't have anything to worry about - it's the excess which causes the problems. My parents were both on statins to improve their health and longevity but felt lousy. They stopped the stains so now they may die sooner but they'll be happier!
Jonny, Bristol

We're all going to die eventually so taking risks isn't going to cause something to happen that wouldn't happen in the long run anyway. All that risk taking does is affect the when, where and how of the inevitable.
Tom Roberts, Derby

I don't think diet and health professionals should stop giving us advice on what foods could be damaging to our health as this allows us to make better decisions on our diets. However, I think they should also give positive advice more often and tell us what foods are beneficial and should be included in our diets as well.
Iain, Glasgow

Thank god for an opinion based on common sense, not driven by nanny state hysteria. Very refreshing.
Allan, Ayrshire

I tell you what, why don't you all stop telling me what to do with my own life and just leave me alone. If I want to change I will, that's my choice and has nothing to do with you, or anyone else. It's called personal responsibility. Take whatever risks you want, it's your life, stop letting yourself be put upon and moralised to.
Martin Cropper, Bury, Lancs

Why waste our lives trying to live longer? Sure if you remove every pleasure you may get an extra 30 years but what would be the point? Another 30 years of dullness? Pretty much everything can be bad for your health but if you avoid every risk can you truly be alive? Life is for the living, take every advantage, enjoy every moment and don't listen to the fear mongers, maybe my life will be shorter when measured in time but when measured in experience and richness it will twice as long!
Budley, Northampton

I am one of the lucky ones. I find salad and muesli yum, but bacon and chocolate yuk, though I must admit that I cycle without a helmet
Bert, Liverpool

There used to be an expression, "read between the lines", which I feel sums up the content of this article very well. The constant stream of alarmist headlines and contrary information serves only to negate the true value of the articles they advertise, leaving people in a state of confusion. Reading between the lines allows one to make a more informed decision.
Big Faced Boy, Worcester, England

There's a simple old saying that I think sums this all up: "Everything in moderation". All the happiest and healthiest people I've known have followed this principle, that very few things are absolutely bad for you and most things can be life-enhancing if consumed moderately.
Notlob, Leeds UK

"Everything in moderation". Is it really necessary to live by any other maxim?
John, Northwood, Middlesex, UK

There are so many experts with so much expert advice. Your body will tell you what risks you can take and what you can't.
Gary Michael, Mumbai, India

Surely it's the quality of life that counts, not the quantity so go on and enjoy yourself, it's not a rehearsal. Why go to your maker, regretting that all your life you didn't have that extra glass of wine, something tasty fried instead of grilled or that last piece of chocolate cake!?
Derek, Farnham, UK

We are all going to die in the next 20 years anyway through global warming, meteor strike, flu pandemic, WWIII, or nuclear terrorism. Pass me the bacon!
Iain, Inverness

Try to have a balanced diet with fruit and vegetables, exercise and sleep well, then at the weekend you are allowed a few drinks and a bacon sandwich on an occasional morning. This provides protein and iron, which are good for you. Please health officials be more constructive with your warnings and stop saying everything causes cancer.
Danny, Bristol, England

A certain amount of risk in life is good, whether it's an occasional bacon sandwich or rock-climbing. Our culture is safety-obsessed, and personally, I'd rather be dead than demented.
Ted Hunt, Sheffield, England

Too much safe thinking is as bad as too much risk taking; we need to judge our individual quality of life and find a balance that gives us what we want. When society dictates what each individual should do and politics takes up the battle cry in the hopes of scoring points for itself then our democratic process is at risk. For example, I hate smoking with a passion, it took my mother's life earlier than it should, but I will defend anyone's right to smoke if they so wish (hopefully not around me though).
Derek, Bromley, UK

I am a healthy 72 year old. My wife and I love our Sunday bacon and eggs and usually finish off the bacon midweek with tomatoes or baked beans. We also drink wine in moderation and I drink several pints of beer each week. I say eat and drink what you like, but in moderation.
Peter Mallinson, Oldham, UK

I believe health warnings are generated by people trying to make a name for themselves or to have their five minutes of glory. They offer the chance for other glory-seekers to deny the risks and the media to make hay while seriously confusing the average man on the bus.
Ian Edwards, Swindon, Wilts

What a pleasure to read. At last - a licence to be a yummy as opposed to a yucky!
Fiona, Cambridge

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