Drink, eat and be merry

Once we get out of this Covid mess, we need to celebrate. There is talk of a new 'Roaring 20s', akin to the live-for-the-day era that followed the ending of the First World War and the Spanish flu pandemic. And why not? The small light at the end of the tunnel is becoming a radiant sun.

In his book Arrêtez de Vous Priver (Stop Depriving Yourselves), French doctor David Khayat believes we should occasionally overindulge without worrying about possible adverse consequences. Such relaxations are necessary to restore our self-esteem, and while most doctors properly advise patients that avoiding fried food, red meat and booze will lengthen their lives, can the prolonged existence be pleasurable enough to make such deprivations worthwhile?

The World Health Organisation, writes Khayat, maintains that eating 50gm of processed meat daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%, but without specifying what the risk is in the first place. If that risk is 2% and you binge on ham daily, then your danger level goes from 2% to slightly over 2% - or practically zilch. Better to adopt the precepts of Epicurus, who advocated modest indulgences to bring peace of mind: 'Life without pleasure makes no sense'.

Britain's former chief medical officer warned women that every glass of wine brought them nearer to contracting breast cancer, and her US counterpart recommended giving up meat and dairy products in addition. French daily Le Figaro praised Khayat's advice, consisting of, as it does, 'a positive and liberating message'.

Turning our backs on the killjoys is the real message.