Hey! You can’t say this in public!
A medical student claims to have cured himself of a debilitating disease by taking up smoking.
Formerly a non-smoker, Stephen Pendry, 23, struggled with crippling pain, tiredness, shortness of breath and dehydration since he was diagnosed with bowel disease ulcerative colitis four years ago.
He had to rush to the toilet up to 15 times a day but is now completely symptom-free, thanks to a new four-a-day cigarette habit.
All coupled with the chappie’s thrilled face as he is about to light up.
He said: ‘Smoking was my last option. I didn’t really want to wear a colostomy bag at the age of 23.
‘Colitis is a condition which is constantly on your mind. It holds you back from doing a lot of things.
‘Now, thanks to smoking, I do not suffer with the symptoms anymore and I can finally move on with my life.
‘I know it’s controversial to say smoking can have positive effects, but doctors don’t always know best.’
Seems quite reasonable, but isn’t it incredibly risky?
Despite well-known links between cigarette smoking and cancer, Mr Pendry balanced the decision to take up the habit against equally well-established links between ulcerative colitis and bowel cancer.
He said: ‘The colitis, and the drugs used to treat it, can themselves cause cancer.
‘I’m only smoking three or four cigarettes a day, so I don’t believe I am at risk.’
Well, it looks like the lad has done his research and made a risk/benefit analysis which appears to be quite sound. But what do the experts say?
Dr Sean Kelly, Consultant Gastroenterologist at York Hospital, who has written on the subject in the British Medical Journal, said: ‘It is a well-established medical fact that smoking protects against ulcerative colitis.
‘Rarely, we use tobacco as a bridge to conventional medical therapy.
‘We sometimes get an ex-smoker to start smoking again – for a short period – to settle the colitis and then allow medicines, such as azathioprine, to maintain remission after they have stopping smoking completely.
‘Around 20 years ago there was a lot of interest in using nicotine patches to treat ulcerative colitis, but the research was not terribly effective.’
Mr Pendry’s approach is backed up by clinical research too, then. Therefore, if it works for him – and hasn’t cost the taxpayer a penny in drugs – it’s a happy outcome all round, good luck to the fella. Who could possibly object?
Martin Dockrell, Director of Research and Policy at charity Action on Smoking and Health said: ‘The evidence doesn’t come from smoking, it comes from nicotine.
‘There are ways of getting safe pharmacological nicotine in patches. We advise talking to a doctor about the benefits of going on nicotine replacement therapy.
Ah, of course.
Are you by any chance talking about the patches that York’s Consultant Gastroenterologist described as “not terribly effective”, Martin?
ASH, eh? Big Pharma’s loyal salesmen even when the circumstances are piled high against them.