Archive for November 1st, 2015

It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.  –  William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (II, ii)

Just recently, we were once again subjected to the silly spectacle of grown men sonorously pronouncing that yet another of life’s simple pleasures leads to an “increased risk” of cancer…the implication being that one ought to avoid the stuff as though it were poison.  Dr. Brooke Magnanti (whose  judgment I trust much more than I would that of the WHO) assures me that the risk is small indeed:

A far smaller percentage of people who eat processed meat regularly will get cancer from it compared to the percentage who get cancer that smoke regularly…If it had been better reported, the news should not have alarmed people any more than knowing that sun exposure, hormone therapy of any kind including the Pill, wild garlic, alcohol, and salted fish also definitely cause cancer, in sufficient doses…

Since I’ve been on oral estrogen for over 20 years and don’t actually eat that much bacon or sausage, I have absolutely no plans to make any changes in my diet whatsoever, any more than I would due to any other nutritional proclamation by “experts” (which is to say somewhere between zero and not at all).  While I can think of many good reasons to alter one’s behavior, a slightly elevated risk of dying from one cause rather than another is not among them.  Colorectal cancer is probably not a particularly pleasant way to go, but guess what?  Most of the other possible routes aren’t any better, and some are much worse.  As I wrote in “The Day of the Dead“,

…death is the one inescapable experience of material existence.  You will die, and so will I, and there is absolutely nothing any of us can do about it…yet vast numbers are so obsessed with this simple and indisputable fact that they waste much of their time on Earth in a struggle they absolutely cannot win.  In a pathetic attempt to stretch their allotted quantity of days just a little further, many are willing to dramatically reduce the quality of the whole

If you really believe that it’s worth turning every meal into an ordeal (or at least a math problem) for the rest of your life in order to buy a ticket for a raffle whose prize is an extra year or two of senility and decrepitude at the end, be my guest; it’s your life and you are free to waste it as you like.  But please don’t expect me to join you; I’ve got better things to do with my time here on this plane than to spend it fleeing death.  Once a year on this day, I drink a toast to the Reaper and remind him that I’m not afraid of him; when he at last come to collect me it will be a rendezvous rather than a capture, a meeting (whether anticipated or unexpected) of old friends rather than the cornering of a terrified animal by a hunter who has never in the history of the world ever failed to run down his prey.

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