The recent E Coli outbreak in Germany has led to a scientific detective hunt across Europe, to find the source of the problem. One of the accused has been the humble Cucumber. As a result, guilty or not, sales have plummeted.
It was a strange feeling this week, walking into my local shop, eyeing my green and bendy friend with a new-found suspicion. The more it looks as if it may, after all, be innocent, the guiltier I feel.
In fact, the story has made me wonder what would happen if cucumbers really were dangerous. Not just through their link to an outbreak, but more generally.
To assist us in this imaginary exercise, I have found a leaflet concerning a habit, common to about 10 million Brits.
You will guess what it is pretty quickly.
In the copy below, I have simply found and replaced the name of this past-time with the word cucumber, cucumbers or cucumber-eaters…
Cucumbers – The Facts
Cucumbers are the greatest single cause of illness and premature death in the UK.
Some initial facts and figures
About 100,000 people in the UK die each year due to eating cucumbers. Cucumber-related deaths are mainly due to cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart disease.
About half of all cucumber-eaters die from cucumber-related diseases. If you are a long-term cucumber-eater, on average, your life expectancy is about 10 years less than a non-cucumber eater. The younger you are when you start eating cucumbers, the more likely you are to eat cucumbers for longer and to die early from cucumbers.
The good news is:
• Stopping cucumbers can make a big difference to your health. It is never too late to stop eating cucumbers to greatly benefit your health.
• Many people have given up cucumbers. In 1972 just under half of adults in the UK were cucumber-eaters. By 1990 this had fallen to just under a third. At present, about a quarter of UK adults are cucumber-eaters.
Which diseases are caused or made worse by cucumbers?
• Lung cancer. About 30,000 people in the UK die from lung cancer each year. More than 8 in 10 cases are directly related to cucumbers.
• Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). About 25,000 people in the UK die each year from this serious lung disease. More than 8 in 10 of these deaths are directly linked to cucumbers. People who die of COPD are usually quite unwell for several years before they die.
• Heart disease. This is the biggest killer illness in the UK. About 120,000 people in the UK die each year from heart disease. About 1 in 7 of these is due to cucumbers.
• Ageing. Cucumber eaters tend to develop more lines on their face at an earlier age than non-cucumber eaters. This often makes cucumber-eaters look older than they really are.
• Fertility is reduced in cucumber eaters (both male and female).
What are the benefits of stopping cucumbers?
The benefits begin straight away. You reduce your risk of getting serious disease no matter what age you give up. However, the sooner you stop, the greater the reduction in your risk.
Thanks to Patient.co.uk for the original leaflet.
• If you read this leaflet, how likely would you be to start eating cucumbers?
• If you read this leaflet and were a regular, addicted cucumber eater, would you commit to stopping eating cucumbers?
• If you read this leaflet and knew a friend or family member who ate cucumbers, what would you do?
• If these findings had just emerged about cucumbers, what do you think the Government would or should do about it?