Some people take a funny line on individual liberty. “I should be free to do whatever I want whenever I want” is a fair representation of this view as it has been expounded to us in many a session in places like the Dog and Duck, or certain junior student common rooms. Leaving aside its obvious flaws, which we’ll hit on later, does untrammelled liberty benefit its disciples as much as they claim, or actually do them harm?
Many was the smoker of our youth who insisted on his inalienable right to ingest immeasurable quantities of burning vegetable matter. We watched countless motorcyclists protesting against the insufferable illiberty of having to wear a crash helmet. While back at the Dog and Duck, every drinker expected that someone else’s money would pay for his liver when it went wrong. (most of them seemed less keen to uphold the liberties of cannabis smokers-why was that?)
Now Nature Briefings has a marvellous take on the consequences of all this blissful, unfettered liberty, with a survey of all the deaths which have been caused by things like smoking and drinking. More of them seem to happen to men, but, ho hum, what’s new there? Most of them always did know best, like so many little monarchs. Which is why they forgot that there might be bigger monarchs, with bigger advertising budgets who were able to twist their delusions into some very profitable directions indeed. We show the results below. “Half of all cancer deaths are preventable”
Nearly 50% of cancer deaths worldwide are caused by preventable risk factors. The largest study yet of the link between cancer burden and risk factors used estimates of cases and deaths from more than 200 countries. Smoking, alcohol use and a high body-mass index — which can be indicative of obesity — were the biggest contributors to cancer. The study did not include some other known risk factors, including exposure to ultraviolet radiation and certain infections — such as HPV, which can cause cervical cancer.Nature | 4 min read
Reference: The Lancet paper
So-are a few restrictions on certain behaviours, in the general interest of preventing global warming, really such an intolerable assault on liberty?
#smoking #alcohol #cancer #premature death #climate change
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