How could a man of such high morals preside over the BBC’s descent into the gutter

Stephen Glover is fast becoming a favourite of this blog, as he perpetually confuses concepts which should be obviously distinct. Today he’s writing on the Sachs Scandal, and starts off thinking about culture

“The suspension of the foul-mouthed Jonathan Ross and the forced resignation of his equally disagreeable sidekick Russell Brand marked an extraordinary historic cultural victory.”

but very quickly manages to turn this into a discussion of morality

“There is a fissure in him [BBC Director General Mark Thompson] that permits this moral relativism”

having first taken a detour into the purpose of the BBC

“Although the BBC is protected from commercial realities, it increasingly conducts itself as though these are the only realities that matter.”

and an attack on the Left

“Whereas some on the Left embrace Brand for his nihilism and for what they regard as his welcome flouting of bourgeois values”

The confounding of culture with morality is, very simply, wrong. Acts are subject to normativity (they can be right or wrong), but things are not (they are only a matter of taste). If we take the cultural artifact of architecture as an example, you can have an ugly building, but you can’t have an evil one. The closest you can come is a building used for immoral purposes, like a death camp (the purpose is immoral, but the building is still morally neutral). In the same way, while we can say a word that is rude, or inappropriate, or vulgar, we cannot say one that is ‘wrong’. We can ascribe a sense or a connotation, in addition to a meaning, but this is not the same as a moral valence.

For this reason, the relativity Mark Thompson holds to is cultural, not moral. This is a much more defensible position: while to say something is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ is to make a statement about the universal, to say something is ‘fine’ or ‘vulgar’ is merely to say that you approve or disapprove of it. In this way, Glover finds Brand and Ross’ brand of comedy distasteful in exactly the same way that some people find ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ distasteful.

Where Glover merges the moral and the cultural is in the implicit assertion that a speech act is an act in the normal sense of the word – that it has something more than just assertoric force (that is does something, rather than just says something). A parallel is the idea that pornography degrades women by reducing them to objects. The ‘thing’ [pornography] is changing the state of things [degrading women] in the same way that the the thing [the speech act] is [“[it] does not raise people up but often pushes them down”]. Historically, this was very much the BBC’s position; it is interesting to compare Glover’s views with those of the Green Book, the corporation’s post-war guidelines on broadcasting standards:

“The Corporation must have its own standards moulded in the light of its own circumstances. The influence that it can exert upon its listeners is immense and the responsibility for a high standard of taste correspondingly heavy. Its aim is for its programmes to entertain without giving reasonable offence to any part of its diversified audience. It must therefore keep its programmes free from vulgarity, political bias, and matter in questionable taste.”

Conceptually, the Book and Glover fail, because a speech act only reflects the world. To suggest that words, alone or in combination, ‘degrade’ or ‘coarsen’ is to say little more than that you believe that through the circulation of those words ideas we disapprove of gain currency. The words themselves express the view, but they are not the view themselves – the best they can do is persuade towards new ideas or agree with those already held. This is especially the case with comedy, which works on shared assumptions¹. To put it simply, Radio 2 will be listened to by the sort of people who listen to Radio 2. This is why Brand and Ross only got two complaints while the show was on air, and why it was passed for broadcast. The move “to the gutter” reflects the fact that that’s where the audience is already.

This isn’t so much bowing to competitive pressure as to a change in the times. The ‘old BBC’ values set out in the Green Book come from a time when there was no competition at all – the BBC had to cover as many bases as possible. That is no longer the case. If the BBC doesn’t cater to an audience, they will go elsewhere². The modern expression of the all-encompassing public service ethos is to have differentiated cultural outlets. Again, Glover wasn’t offended when the show was broadcast because he hadn’t been listening to it.

The one thing that would upset this argument is if Brand and Ross had actually done anything morally wrong. They didn’t. They said things which were true. They did so in a vulgar manner, but, again, the importance of that is subject to taste. It is interesting, for example, to read the Mail’s revelations that “Russell Brand was obsessed by my Fawlty Towers grandfather in bed. Vulgarity clearly changes by the day. The worst crime you can pin at their door is breaking an expected bond of trust by revealing information which the young lady in question might not have wanted revealed. This, though, unless breaking an explicit promise, is merely ungentlemanly. Questionable behaviour, not wrong³.

“Behav[ing] in an inexcusable way” captures this quite nicely. The two behaved poorly, but without doing anything wrong. ‘Inexcusable’ is the sort of word you use to describe someone who gets drunk at a dinner party and says what you’re all thinking about the hostess’s hair-do. They could have been less crass. But that is the extent of their crime. While they may have offended ‘decency’, they haven’t offended morality. For this reason, Mr Thompson would be foolish to follow the prescription that:

“If Mr Thompson does not have the courage to act on his moral convictions, he will be wise to listen to the outrage of those who do.”

He should have the wisdom to be able to tell the difference between the immoral and the questionable, and courage to tell those that can’t where to get off.


¹ Reading through the transcript is very interesting, because the comedy works not so much on a ‘subversion’ of ‘bourgeouis values’ but through their acceptance. The audience has to understand that it is inappropriate to mention liasons with someone’s granddaughter for the joke to work – Ross blurts it out, thus embarrassing Brand whose attempts to save the situation only make it worse, culminating in a ludicrous and innappropriate song. Structurally, this is exactly the same as Basil Fawlty’s attempts to avoid conflict with the Germans. Just as Fawlty wasn’t undermining the bourgouis value of not blaming World War Two on random tourists, this does not undermine the taboo on discussing your sexual exploits with their relatives.

² With a TV license being compulsory for TV owners, this would disenfrachise a large proportion of the audience.

³ We might wonder about offence, but, again, words have no valence, they merely reflect the views of the speaker. You can disagree with them, but to take it personally is ridiculous. The problem with offence lies with the person taking it, not the person giving it.

Would life as a librarian not better suit these invisible MPs?

Quentin Letts names and shames those that truly deserve it

“Then there are the likes of Mr Campbell (Lab, Tynemouth), Hon Members who so rarely leap to their hind hooves to shout up for their constituents that you wonder why they ever sought public office. Would life as a librarian not have suited them better?”

Which, on one level, is fair enough: trusting the ever vigilant, Campbell has spoken in less debates than the average MP¹ However, although it may seem this way to a man whose job it is to watch debates, it’s not a competition. Not only does “Labour MP from Bradford, Terry Rooney … seldom catches the scorer’s eye“, no one does. There is no scorer.

The point was very well made by several constituents of Ilford North, who jumped to their MP’s defence in the online comments box². To take a reductio ad absurdum, a MP who spoke only in debates would be a very poor one: there are committees to sit on, votes to pass, written question to ask, policy forums to influence, local surgeries to hold, constituents to meet, visit and listen to, and so on. Merely speaking in debates is a very small component.³

Looking Alan Campbell, the brunt of Letts’ disdain, speaking in debates is also a poor proxy for ministerial effectiveness, which presumably has a much bigger ‘doing’ component than it does a ‘talking about’ part. Given that Mr Campbell had previously held a handful of small-scale back-office governmental positions, it’s not surprising that he’s now holding a minor back-office position at the Home Office. Again, as a reductio, would we prefer a ‘political personality’ like George Galloway to be working beneath stairs or someone with a bit of a track record quietly dealing with small bits of government?

Especially considering the magnitude of the position in question (Parliamentary Under-Secretary), the conclusion that all you have to do is ‘Keep your mouth shut..keep your nose clean…advance past go” towards some sort of golden stipend is something of an exaggeration. The glory is slight, the recompense inconsiderable.

This series of slights on MPs and belittlement of new ministers is a long way to go to pay a complement to Phil Woolas. A new favourite of the Mail for speaking their mind on immigration (or, as Letts puts it, having “a dash of mustard in his snout“), this column sees him already half-martyred, outlived by the unassuming Mr Campbell. Which leaves us with Letts’ own reductio – would you rather the unshowy administrator or the careless interviewee?


¹ Interestingly, both non-Labour MPs picked on here do quite well on the ‘speaking in debates’ front, with both clocking up momre than 20 appearances in the last year.

² ” I have to tell you that in his Constituency of Ilford North, Lee is extremely well known“, say Irene Dunkley of Woodford Green Essex. “He’s a very diligent and helpful constituency MP, he has spoken in the Chamber on many occasions, and having worked hard on the Transport Select Committee is now an equally lively member of the Health Select Committee.” expanded D McDonald of Ilford, Essex.

³ Back at theyworkforyou, all of the named MPs are come out as ‘above average’ on some measure of involvement. Three of them also have websites in which they contrive to look very busy (Alan Campbell, Paul Truswell, Lee Scott). If anyone would like to email them to see what it is they do all day, I’m sure they’d be happy to inform you – theyworkforyou has all their contact details. [Other political websites are available]

Strange Ontology: Week beginning 20th October

New Research

20th October

The age of paranoia: Lonely city life and work worries leave us racked by irrational fear

A report on: Freeman (2008) Paranoia: the 21st Century Fear, Oxford:OUP

(“Mistrust was associated with greater numbers of deaths from cancer, heart disease and strokes.”)

The test that can catch cervical cancer early

A report on: Charles-Edwards et al (2008) Diffusion-weighted Imaging in Cervical Cancer with an Endovaginal Technique: Potential Value for Improving Tumor Detection in Stage Ia and Ib1 Disease, Radiology 249:541-550

21st October

Skin damaged by too much sun can be healed with laser therapy

A report on: Orringer et al (2008) Molecular Effects of Photodynamic Therapy for Photoaging, Archives of Dermatology, 144(10):1296-1302.

22nd October

Drinking three cups of coffee a day ‘shrinks women’s breasts’

A report on: Jernström et al (2008) Coffee intake and CYP1A2*1F genotype predict breast volume in young women: implications for breast cancer, British Journal of Cancer, doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604687

23rd October

The daily diet pill that can help you drop two dress sizes in just six months

A report on: Astrup et al (2008) Effect of tesofensine on bodyweight loss, body composition, and quality of life in obese patients: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Lancet, DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61525-1

How cancer drug could reverse debilitating effects of MS

A report on: CAMMS223 (2008) Alemtuzumab vs. Interferon Beta-1a in Early Multiple Sclerosis, New England Journal Of Medicine, 359:1786-1801

Hope for new cancer drugs as scientists grow prostate gland from a single cell

A report on: Leong et al (2008) Generation of a prostate from a single adult stem cell, Nature, doi:10.1038

24th October

The jab that fights kidney, bowel and prostate cancers… with few side-effects

A report on: Harrup et al (2008) Cross-trial analysis of immunological and clinical data resulting from phase I and II trials of MVA-5T4 (TroVax®) in colorectal, renal and prostate cancer patients, presented at 20th EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics, 22-24 October , Geneva.

26th October

British scientists breed purple tomatoes to fight cancer

A report on: Butelli et al (2008) Enrichment of tomato fruit with health-promoting anthocyanins by expression of select transcription factors, Nature Biotechnology, doi: 10.1038/nbt.1506

Causes in brief

20th October

Cigarette launch ‘targets girls’ with super-slim packs in female-friendly packaging

“According to Cancer Research UK, smoking kills around 46,000 people each year.”

Revealed: The 20 ‘functional foods’ you should be eating for a long and active life

Although this sounds like new research, it actually appears to be a write-up of Dr Gary Williamson’s inaugural lecture as professor of functional foods at Leeds University. The lecture can be found here, although it is just the lecture slides, and so isn’t big on the details.

Asbestos scare at Selfridges after toxic substance is found on store’s glass panels

“If disturbed or broken, asbestos can release fibres that cause cancer.”

Is there any such thing as the winter blues? Experts shed new light on SAD condition

“it’s the UVA rays that can cause cancer”

22nd October

Supermarket shoppers could face ‘walk of shame’ to alcohol checkout counter in bid to curb growing binge-drinking culture

“Experts from Sheffield University warned that cheap alcohol was fuelling rates of cancer and strokes, as well as helping to increase divorce rates.”

Not peer-reviwed research (as far as I can tell), but available here.

25th October

The prostate and why men need to know more about it

“A typical Western diet that is high in saturated animal fat, such as red meat, processed meats and dairy products while low in fruit and vegetables, increases your risk.”

A heart-rending dispatch from Ethiopia reveals the plight of donkeys – at the hands of the people who need them most

About a week ago, I was wondering why Liz Jones bothered going to Ethiopia if she was only going to conclude that the famine was the fault of ex-bankers. Turns out she was there for the donkeys:

“I have been invited to Africa to see the work done by The Brooke, a charity that aims to promote healthy working animals for the poorest people on the planet, and which has been working in Ethiopia for three years.”

Which is fair enough – cruelty to animals is an inhumanity, and we should be concerned about it wherever it occurs. Having said that, going to a famine-struck part of the world to look at how they treat their domestic animals is a bit like wandering round an art gallery looking at the dehumidifying equipment. Arguably the problems are secondary.

This is something Liz herself is happy to admit:

“I tried to imagine how I would treat a donkey if I had seven mouths to feed, and I hope I would still have a vestige of compassion. But if my children were starving, I cannot be sure that that would be the case. No one can.”

The obvious conclusion to draw from which is that dealing with the starving might provide some respite for the animals. Liz is trying to intervene one step too far down the line – as a result, she and her vets will only ever be firefighting, treating the symptoms.

It’s interesting how the focus of the stories has shifted from one week to the next. The concern for the human side of things is largely gone this week (with quotes like the above only thrown in as afterthoughts) and any consideration of broader causes has gone completely. Unlike last week, there are actual details of how readers can help (donation details for the charity are given at the end of the story), allowing readers to contribute to the fire-fighting. Although human suffering is mentioned, the focus is on the brutality and inhumanity. Rather than the brutality towards the animals being evidence of dehumanising effects of poverty and the need for us to help Ethiopians, the brutality is merely taken as brutality with the poverty something which is an insufficient defence.

The worry with last week’s story was that the potential to help Ethiopians was looked past to score points off the rich, this week’s story explains why. The Ethiopians were only ever incidental – the real victims were always their animals. Which seems slightly misguided, to say the least.

What my lost oboe tells us about trust and honesty – two principles that are sadly disappearing

A melancholy little column from Tom Utley, almost completely undermined by his observation that:

“There was always a strong chance, even 40 years ago, that a fellow passenger on that bus to Neasden would have picked up my forgotten oboe and walked off with it into the night. Hence my four days of panic and misery before it turned up.”

Which is an admission of the motivating thought behind this blog: the world wasn’t really better in the halcyon days of other people’s youth, other people just think it was. When you think about it sensibly, not much has changed. But not so hasty:

“But back in 1968, you could be almost completely sure that once an item had been handed in to an official in charge of lost property, it would be 100 per cent safe.”

How do we get from a ‘strong chance’ that nothing’s changed to ‘almost complete’ certainty that it has? On what basis are we suggesting that people in positions of trust are now less trustworthy than they were when Tom Utley was a boy? An anecdote about someone returning his lost oboe, and a survey by Which? in which lost property offices waited for people who’d lost things to contact them rather than the other way around. These two quickly snowball into

“How desperately sad that in 2008, so many more people in all walks of life look upon trust as something to be abused. They seem to think that if they can get away with it, that’s all that matters.”

This sort of apocalyptic thinking is almost too vague to attack – the evidence offered is so insufficient that it can’t plausibly the basis for the conclusion. To attack it would be to attack a straw man. More interesting is the way Tom himself explains the possible causes of his despair:

“I can’t believe it’s just because we’ve become a more secular society, less terrified of hellfire.”

The ‘just’ does allow that it is a component though, sitting slightly uncomfortably with his earlier assertion that:

“For the huge majority of people in positions of trust, whether they were rich or poor, it was a point of pride to show themselves worthy of the confidence placed in them.”

Unless they were taking pride in doing the minimum required to avoid the wrath of God, one of those positions is untenable. Also interesting (and this should be the last quote for a while) is the movement from the religious to the social:

“Perhaps it has something to do with the breakdown of the family, of local communities and national identity, which has made us feel more distant from the people around us and less inclined to see ourselves in their shoes or to do for them as we would be done by.”

Or, to call a spade a spade: single parents, urbanisation and immigration¹. Taken together, Tom is just listing things he doesn’t trust as a reason for not trusting people. Essentially people are less like Tom Utley than they used to be, their backgrounds and points of reference are not those he can understand.

The obvious point that he misses is that trust is something that is given. Whether or not we give it is based entirely on perception. Take his example of MPs abusing trust by registering their weekend homes as their main residences. As far as I can make out, the story he’s referring to is the listing of Ed Balls’ and Yvette Cooper’s house near their constituencies in Yorkshire as their main residence. The report from the Parliamentary Standards Committee is here. Points 43-48 (pages 18-21) serve as a decent summary of quite a long and involved report, which concluded they were not guilty of anything, had done everything they could to stay on the right side of the regulations and had acted in a way that actually meant they paid more in needless stamp duty than they claimed in expenses². Now I don’t expect Tom to have read this report, although he probably should. All he’s doing is reflexively repeating what he believes to be true. But he only believes it because he doesn’t trust MPs to start with. Thus his evidence that the world is less worthy of trust is that he doesn’t trust people.

This circularity quickly becomes self-reinforcing. The story about MPs second homes has become evidence of their perfidy, even though in reality it proved the opposite. MPs are now less trustworthy than when they started, when actually they’ve proven themselves to be honest. In the same way, the employees of the lost property office (with one exception, which Network Rail disputes) were not shown to have done anything wrong, they were just under-zealous in performing what Tom believes their responsibility to be. The lack of trust which is already there is the root cause of the untrustworthiness he finds.

It’s in this context that his own explanation sits. The world is different from the one of his childhood because the people around him are different. The government are from a different political background, the people working in lost property offices are disproportionately from different socio-economic (and so, in many parts of the country, ethnic) backgrounds, as indeed are the bankers. The difference translates as a lack of understanding and a suspicion.

All of which means the real question should be: When did we stop giving people the benefit of the doubt? If Tom Utley could find a way to start again, he’d probably be much happier.


¹ Of the four, it’s the movement into the cities that is allows the other three. Tom’s real question should be how we secure the benefits of urbanisation without the social costs.

² London was designated as their second home for tax purposes, so they ended up paying Capital Gains tax when moving within the capital. Had they registered this as their main residence for Parliamentary purposes, consistency would demand them doing the same for tax purposes, meaning that they wouldn’t have been eligible. By deliberately registering their constituency property as their ‘main address’, they knowingly incurred taxes that they could have avoided, which were greater than the expenses claimed on the constituency house.

Labour have said the unsayable on migration. But do they really have the guts to crack down?

As Melanie Phillips says, the backlash for Phil Woolas’ comments on immigration over the weekend was somewhat predictable.

“These remarks immediately detonated the expected explosion from the usual suspects. Labour MPs postured, unions fumed, the race lobby had to lie down in a darkened room. With his ‘potentially inflammatory’ remarks, Woolas was pandering to xenophobia and ‘Right-wing extremists’.”

Not quite for the reasons she suggests though. Were Woolas’ comments restricted to:

““In times of economic difficulties, racial stereotyping becomes stronger but also if you’ve got skills shortages you should, as a government, attempt to fill those skills shortages with your indigenous population.””

all we would have is a doctrine of despair and defeat – we act now against those that weren’t born here lest we be racist later. Or, to put a more positive spin on things – the Government should limit immigration now instead of risking the public taking things into their own hands. Deeply depressing though this is, it isn’t so much ‘playing into the hands of the right wing’ as ‘folding in the face of the right wing’.

Instead, I think we can safely say that the reason that ‘the race lobby had to lie down in a darkened room’ was that Woolas was making the link at all. While this is the sort of rhetoric which will win easy friends, Woolas’ powers to limit immigration are incredibly limited. There are a few sources of immigration: those who marry British nationals (which you couldn’t reduce without imposing miscegenation laws), those accepted as refugees (which would require either opting out of the UN Convention relating to the State of Refugees, or an end to war and natural disasters), international students (the one cash cow universities have to cover their costs), migration from Europe and migration from outside Europe. Assuming Phillips is not looking towards an exit from the EU as a solution to our current economic malaise, we’re looking at around 100,000 work permits issued each year, most of which are for periods of less than a year. The work-permit system, as was, was a market-driven way of filling jobs with workers. The current centrally driven points system aims at doing the same thing. The generalised scheme of Woolas’ would be to upskill the unskilled indigenous to reduce the need for immigrants, presumably on the assumption that employers find it easier to import a ready trained immigrant than train a new one¹. Phillips’ scheme is to make it harder to get benefits, presumably meaning that already skilled unemployees will have to work rather than starve.

The backlash comes because Woolas’ argument is predicated on allowing Phillips’ and Phillips is a bigot. Woolas’ council of despair is that if we aren’t seen to act on immigrants, columnists like Phillips and the readership that listen to her will lash out against guests in our country. Woolas deserves a lashing, because so long as you fail to stand up to people like Melanie Phillips who offer nothing but fear and aggression, you give them the debate by default.

Phillips offers no argument here that multiculturalism is a bad thing. She says it is unnecessary (because cutting benefits will solve the problem), that it is ideologically driven and that it sets communities against each other. The first is ridiculous, the second circular (you need to accept the government is malign for the ideology, which is malign because it’s of the government), the third anecdotal with obvious counterexamples. The rage at multiculturalism is little more than a tenet of faith. Telling is the emotive

“Ministers claimed immigration would boost the economy and produce a more tolerant multicultural society  –  without ever asking the electorate whether it wanted its country transformed in this manner.”

The question is of national identity: do we define ourselves in terms of shared values or ethnicity? In seeking to oppose freedom of movement and settlement, she’s opposing aspiration, hard work, the right for people to pass on earned benefits to their children, to live with their families and to settle in communities they’ve made their life in. These are all values one would expect to be native to her, her readers and their conception of the nation. How then is she defining it? The only other groupings she makes reference to are ethnic and religious.

She’s perfectly right to suggest that it is not bigoted

“merely [to] seek[s] to preserve national identity and social cohesion”

you don’t get social cohesion by labelling a section of the population as “demographic suicide”². You get it through working through differences by looking to the common values that define the community as a whole. Values she denies. Woolas admits the government has made mistakes in integration policy, while Phillips allows only the one, the “literal changing of the face of this country”³. For her, the project could never work, it was never anything more than miscegenation. That’s all that British jobs for Britons means when you place it in the context of “no less than 70 per cent of that increase will be made up of immigrants” (the context for which we can find here).

This is not a national identity I recognise. This is monstrous. Let the backlash continue.


¹ How this sits with the Mail’s current campaign to make things easier for small businesses is unclear.

² Demographic old age and senility are presumably preferable

³ If anyone wants to draw the literal face of the country, I’ll start a gallery somewhere on the blog. Best one wins kudos.

Strange Ontology: Week beginning 13th October

Thanks goes this week to Dan H, who last week sent me a link that made Daily Mail stories arrive with my emails every evening. Although in some, rather obvious ways, this is a very bad thing, it has the upside of allowing me to expand beyond stories like ‘Breadcrumbs increase risk of cancerous death’, which are retellings of press releases on newly published research, and into the more insidious ‘My sadness over relative’s cancerous death’, which tend to drop in reference to ways of increasing your risks in a conversational tone. I have now read every story in last week’s Mail which used the word ‘cancer’ (about 65 in total), so you do not have to. Please find the fruits below:


13th October

Rain makes you fat, cloudy skies set your scars tingling. The surprising ways our climate can affect your health…

A report on: Porojnicu, Robsahm, Ree and Moan (2005) Season of diagnosis is a prognostic factor in Hodgkin’s lymphoma: a possible role of sun-induced vitamin D, British Journal of Cancer (2005) 93, 571–574. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6602722

A new weapon against cancer could be found in a jar of jam

A report on: Gunning, Bongaerts and Morris (2008) Recognition of galactan components of pectin by galectin-3 FASEB J, 2008 doi: 10.1096/fj.08-106617


A report on: Jackson et al (2007) Pectin induces apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells: correlation of apoptotic function with pectin structure, Glycobiology 17(8):805-819; doi:10.1093/glycob/cwm054

16th October

Scientists discover protein that stops cells becoming vulnerable to cancer

A report on: Barber et al (2008) RTEL1 Maintains Genomic Stability by Suppressing Homologous Recombination, Cell, 135, 261-271.

Causes in Brief

14th October

Ignore those killjoys! Tomato ketchup can be good for your children

“In fact, ketchup has some redeeming factors. It is rich in lycopene, the powerful, cancer-fighting antioxidant that gives tomatoes and other fruit and vegetables their bright colour.”

Could the ‘sunshine vitamin’ lower your risk of developing Parkinson’s?

“U.S. researchers last year claimed vitamin D ‘deficiency’ may be to blame for 600,000 cancer cases worldwide a year, particularly in northern Europe where sun exposure levels are relatively low.”

see also Doubling levels of vitamin D ‘could prevent serious diseases in your children’

Snuff sales puff up as credit crunch and smoking ban take hold

“Switching to snuff would lower your chances of lung cancer and pulmonary disease by at least 90 per cent. However the chances of nasal cancer is increased by two or three fold.”

‘Dear Fern, you look fantastic, but…’ Anne Diamond warns of the physical and emotional trials of having a gastric band op

“The risk of colon cancer increases the heavier you are”

15th October

I gave up sex eight years ago… and it’s the best thing I ever did

“I have also significantly reduced my odds of contracting cervical cancer.”

18th October

Why the humble mushroom is being hailed as a superfood

“Meanwhile, Hanyang University in South Korea found mushrooms may lower the risk of breast cancer.”

19th October

Just one of glass of wine a day increases women’s risk of breast cancer

“Drinking just one large glass of wine a day increases the chances of developing breast cancer by a fifth”