Thursday, July 30, 2009

My eyes jumped out of my head

It's not often that I'm reading the newspaper and see something that makes me immediately turn to old Blogger, and write about it. But you see, there's an article on page 7 of The Age about the dangers of solariums. It's titled Sunbeds join smokes as top danger.

Included is a list of substances/behaviours which are known to be carcinogenic to humans. There's a little asterisk explaining this is a list compiled from a "much longer list.'

See if there's anything here that jumps out at you:

- Arsenic
- Asbestos
- Oral contraceptives
- Solar radiation

- Sunbeds
- Aluminium production
-Chimney sweeping
- Working as a painter
- Tobacco smoking and tobacco smoke

- Ethanol in alcoholic beverages
- Household combustion of coal
- Salted fish (Chinese style)
- Wood dust

Well, there's actually two. Chinese-style fish? I'm guessing it's a highly charcoaled dish, because carbon-crunchy crusts consumed in that way is something we know can be bad for you.

Everything else is logical and unsurprising. Apart from the pill. I know there have been studies which suggest the contraceptive pill might be or is connected to higher rates of certain types of cancer. I went to the International Agency for Research on Cancer and skimmed some studies. I found out that according to their research (and I'm summarising):

- increase in relative risk for breast cancer
- risk for endometrial cancer approximately halved
- overall, the risk for cervical cancer increased
- overall reduced risk for ovarian cancer
- no significant association with use of contraceptive pill and death from liver cancer
- no association found between pill use and risk for cutaneous melanoma
- no associated risk for colorectal cancer

So, the actual data are probably what I might have expected. If someone had asked me what are the risks of the pill, I would have said "I think there's some connection with breast cancer, so they say."


With so few items mentioned, why put the pill in there at all? Everything else on that list (with the exception perhaps of the fish (Chinese-style) can be categorised as "BAD" or "DANGEROUS" by the average thinking person. I would think.

arsenic - dangerous
asbestos - dangerous
sunbeds - bad
chimney sweeping - dangerous

We know it's not good to inhale certain stuff (BOB!) - wood dust, fumes from pain, tobacco smoke, stuff that's in chimneys.

We know the sun can give us cancer.

Maybe fish (Chinese-style) is incredibly hazardous. Obviously it is, to make the list along with arsenic and asbestos.

And the pill's inclusion. What does that mean? What message does it send people who read that list? People who maybe panic and think the risks for taking the pill can be equated with the risks in having contact with Asbestos, the Evil Tobacco and the Dreaded Chinese-Style Fish!!

What message does it send women? What decade are we living in? I'm not saying the pill is without risks and side-effects, but it's like a few years ago when there were reports of Hormone Replacement Therapy causing increased risks in cancer - was it breast? - and women everywhere went off them and men everywhere went crazy. ( I can say that because I'm a woman and I have hormones.)


While at the online version of the Age I saw some other gems that I couldn't pass by.

1. Best man allegedly raped by stripper at buck's night.

Some choice lines:

'A County Court jury was yesterday told to approach their task free of sympathy, emotion or bias and to put views of strippers and buck’s nights ‘‘out of your mind’’.'


'But Naggs’ barrister, Paul Higham, asked the jury to have ‘‘in the back of your mind’’ issues of male sexuality and pride, fear, ego and peer group pressure.'

That's a lot for a jury to have in and out of their minds.

Also - 'He said if there was penetration it was accidental and he asked what led the man to ‘‘place himself in proximity to the dildo’’, which he described as ‘‘arguably statuesque.’’ '

A statuesque dildo?

But wait, there's more:

Naggs, who has pleaded not guilty, is alleged to have thrust the dildo into the man’s anus during a naked XXX-rated show in a house in Mornington on September 24, 2007.

Mr Gilligan told the jury that the man had replaced the groom and another volunteer who were reluctant to continue their involvement with Naggs. He said after she did a lap dance, rubbed her breasts in his face and used the dildo on herself, he asked her: ‘‘Be gentle. Don’t do it too hard.’’
‘‘No worries,’’ Mr Gilligan said Naggs replied.

When the man, who was on all fours and naked from the knees up, asked her not to go near his anus, she allegedly said: ‘‘Not a problem. Relax. It’s only fun. I won’t go there.’’

But Mr Gilligan said that soon after Naggs applied cream or lubricant to his buttocks, he felt a sharp pain, a thrust and the dildo ‘‘go right into his anal passage’’.

He said the man was hurt and shocked and after Naggs allegedly told him not to worry because ‘‘only you and I know’’, he said: ‘‘What the f--- did you do that for, you stupid bitch.’’

Mr Gilligan said the man complained to police later that day while a medical examination showed a small abrasion below his anal verge ‘‘most likely caused by blunt trauma’’.

Mr Higham submitted that if there was penetration it was accidental so ‘‘this is a case, if you like, of accidental rape’’.

He described the facts as unique, involving a working mother and professional dancer of 13 years.


And finally a feel-good story that made me go "awwwww" instead of "ewwwww."

2. Lost Brissy dog Muffy found nine years' later - in Melbourne.

Oh, I just read the article. Seems it's likely the dog was picked up as a stray in Queensland and brought to Melbourne. Not The Incredible Adventure after all. Never mind, at least she's been rescued from the evils who had her (who were being investigated for animal cruelty) and will be reunited with her true owners next week.


groverjones said...

Hi Melba,
Since I'm waiting for a patient to turn up...the thing with the OCP is that it is a relative risk increase. Journos aren't good at this stuff. They prefer Pill=OMG YOU HAS BOOBZ CANCERS!!!

If you have a really low risk of breast cancer, say 1/1000 and you double that risk by taking the pill, that is a large relative risk increase (ie double the risk) but is still a low absolute risk, ie 2/1000.

On the other hand, if you had 6 relatives with familial breast cancer and your risk was really high, say 1/4 and you doubled that risk you would be really high risk, 1/2 and you should not be taking the pill.

So it is a carcinogen, but so are lots of other things. Like salted fish, and probably salami and prosciutto and barbecued meat and the sun and obesity and etc etc etc.

Melba said...

Hey thanks groverjones. I get that, I understand. But why include the fish and the pill in a list with other possibly higher-risk substances/practices?

Fear mongering?

Thanks for squeezing me in between patients!

The Man at the Pub said...

Chinese-style fish? If it's charcoal they are worried about, why not mention the humble barbecued snag or lamb chop? Surely that is more relevent to the Australian population than some obscure Asian dish.

Another Outspoken Female said...

A huge meta analysis of foods and cancer showed that preserved meat ticked every box as a potential carcinogen. They might ban sun beds but I reckon there will be a huge outcry if deli meats go off the menu.

Lewd Bob said...

Agreed Melba. They should remove salted fish (or the pill) and add fibreglass particles from insulation batts.

I hear ethanol-based mouthwash (such as listerine) can increase the risk of mouth cancer. I use it twice daily (and eat salted squid - fortunately not a fish - weekly). I really am dying. But who isn't?

Joe Jackson did say, way back in the 80s, that everything gives you cancer.

Melba said...

I reckon they should have removed salty fish and the pill and put salami and pink batt dust.

Bob, I asked our dentist not a month ago about the mouthwash, cause Princess has braces and has to use a special fluoride one. My mother had also heard that, about the mouth cancer. I can't remember exactly what he said, but it put my mind at ease, not to worry about it. Something like sure, ethanol has been connected to mouth cancer, but it's more the alcoholics and the ethanol in their drinks that is the risk, not the mouthwash itself (only mentioned because of the ethanol content.)


jo_blue said...

SALTED FISH? Who would have guessed? There's loads of salted fish here, but it's just that, heavily salted and dried, no charcoal. Maybe it has another preservative in it that makes it a carcinogen. I've read that a lot of people here get cancer of the nose and mouth and that one of the contributors was the amount of salted fish they eat.

Melba said...

They didn't say salted fish, just "Chinese style."

Maybe it's deep fried to a blackened crisp? I don't know. Maybe it's the salty version.

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