There’s a list of people first in the queue for Hell’s fiery sulphur pits. Liberal Democrats, cyclists… and the self-righteous shits who run the anti-smoking lobby. OK, we get it, smoking is bad and gives you cancer. But hello, people, have you been reading the Daily Mail recently? So does stroking kittens and doing shots of wheatgrass.
I’ve never been particularly susceptible to the allure of narcotic vices, but the anti-smoking brigade didn’t make it easy to grow up without taking a drag on a tantalising cancer stick. I mean… those ridiculous adverts on TV about cigarettes making you fat. The comical pictures of diseased lung from a third-world coal miner on the back of fag packet.
They all combined to make the prospect of starting deliciously tempting.
And then, to add insult to injury, Labour introduced the smoking ban, depriving all the goody-two-shoes like me of their cool friends, who kept nipping outside for a fag and more interesting conversation.
Despite all this, I kept my nose clean and never did pluck up the courage to ask for ten Marlboro Lights in the local bodega. Mainly because I didn’t want to disappoint my mother.
Anyway. Five years ago I bought a celeriac from the German budget-supermarket Lidl. I cooked it, I ate it and I woke up the next morning with a crippling headache and what is referred to in medical circles as “bloody diarrhoea”.
Two years more of streaked stools, and I went to the doctor, who referred me to a nice man who stuck a camera up my rear end and informed me had a delightful disease called ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative colitis is the most common type of inflammatory bowel disease with 1 in every 1,00o people in North America being affected by it.
I’m all medicined up and lead a reasonably bloody diarrhea free life these days.
But imagine my surprise when I came across a study recently in the British Medical Journal, which said:
“The inflammation begins in the rectum and is continuous, extending along the colon for a variable distance.. the cause is unknown, but a disordered immune response to a luminal agent, probably commensal bacteria, is the likely mechanism.
“Smoking is protective.”
What? The last sentence threw me. Surely not. So I dug around and in fact there are countless peer-reviewed studies in reputable medical journals that come to the same conclusion: smoking can prevent the onset of ulcerative colitis and is an effective treatment for the symptoms of the disease.
It turns out that ulcerative colitis was first observed to be a disease of non-smokers in the 1980s and researchers have been confirming the initial observations ever since.
A study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology summarises the overall consensus:
‘Nicotine might be the active component of smoking responsible for the beneficial effects on the course of the disease.’
“[T]here is overwhelming epidemiological evidence that smoking protects against ulcerative colitis, the risk of developing the disease being significantly lower in smokers than in non-smokers or former smokers. The fact that patients with ulcerative colitis who resume or start smoking often experience clinical improvement prompted attempts to verify the hypothesis that nicotine might be the active component of smoking responsible for the beneficial effects on the course of the disease.”
Well! They don’t tell you that on the back of Pall Mall.
And it gets worse. Not only have cigarettes’ bloody poop and pain preventing qualities been outrageously hidden from the public, they could even prevent my ulcerative colitis from springing worse things than a red toilet bowl on me. The World Journal of Gastroenterology highlights smoking as a possible method for “decreasing the need for colectomy”.
Yep, I might one day need to have a literal sack of shit strapped to me, but outrageously my doctors haven’t offered to fund a twenty-a-day habit on the National Health Service.
The moral of the story? Stop listening to the kill-joys and spark up your next fag guilt-free, safe in the knowledge that you’re warding off shitty bum disease. And don’t eat celeriac.
I’m sure a bit of lung cancer is far from fun and games, but I promise you, dear reader, that shitting blood ten times a day is more likely to happen to you – and almost worse.