Tall Story

Once upon a time there was a country called Bananaland or something which had lots of pubs. And everyone enjoyed going to the pubs. Fat people went to them, and thin people. Tall people and short people. Brown people and pink people. Red-haired people and yellow-haired people. Pipe-smoking people and cigar-smoking people. Men people and women people. Everyone was welcome. And for a long time everything went very well, and everyone was happy.

But then some of the short people started to complain. “Everything is made for tall people,” they said. “The bar is so high that we can’t see over it. And the tables are too high, and so are the chairs. When we sit on the chairs, our feet are dangling in the air. And as for the gents toilets, well, the less said about that the better. Have you ever tried peeing upwards?”

And other short people joined in and said, “We’re sick and tired of all those tall people looking down their noses at us. They think they’re so high and mighty, talking over our heads to each other. They think they own the place. They think we should look up to them, but they all need to be taken down a peg or two.”

And soon even more short people started saying, “And you can’t see a thing for tall people. They block the view. And when you walk past them, you’re quite likely to get an elbow in your face. I think they do it deliberately sometimes.”

“Everything is too high,” the short people said. “The bar is too high, the tables are too high, the chairs are too high, the ceiling is too high, the steps are too high.”

And they went to the King with a petition to make everything shorter. They explained that when things were too high, short people had lots of accidents falling off high chairs, falling down staircases, and so on. There was a “health and safety” risk, they declared.

So the King issued an edict to the pub landlords, telling them to make everything shorter.

And so the pub landlords sawed about a foot off the legs of all the chairs and tables, and lowered the bars and the pool tables and juke boxes. And they reduced the ceiling heights from ten feet to five feet. And they lowered the urinals and the steps and everything else too.

And they also made all the glasses and plates half the size they were before – although they charged the same prices for the new short measures as they had for the previous tall ones.

And when it was done all the short people were delighted. “It’s so cosy now that it’s not like an aircraft hangar. And when you sit down your feet are on the floor. And you can actually watch your drink being poured rather than just imagine it.”

But the tall people didn’t like it at all. When they went into a pub, they had to walk almost bent double. And when they sat down in the chairs, their knees came up to their eyes. And when they went to the gents, well, the less said about that the better. Have you ever tried peeing into a egg-cup from half way up a ladder?

And so the tall people took to standing outside, where the ceiling was as high as the sky. And one by one they stopped going to the pubs at all.

They said things like, “We just don’t like the pubs any more. Everything is too small now. We bang our heads against the ceilings all the time. And when we sit down, it’s nearly impossible to stand up again. It was much better in the old days. We feel like we’ve been expelled from society.”

And the short people said, “You tall people had everything your own way for a long time. Now it’s our turn. And you haven’t been expelled from society. There’s no law forbidding you from going into pubs. There’s no signs saying No Tall People Allowed or anything.”

And with all the tall people standing by the doors outside, the short people started complaining that it was now getting difficult to get into pubs because of all the tall people outside “looking down their noses at us.”

And the tall people said, “Why can’t we have short pubs and tall pubs? Or short rooms and tall rooms.”

And the short people said, “No, we want to be able to go into anywhere we like and sit down at tables that are our size. We don’t want to have to read a sign before we go in someplace.”

And the tall people started having Tall-Drinky nights in their own homes, where people could sit on tall chairs at tall tables in tall rooms, drinking tall drinks, and telling each other tall stories just like they used to do.

And the pubs started going bust, one by one, now that most of their tall customers had left, and that they’d effectively doubled the price of their drinks, and there were only a few shorties left drinking quarter pints of beer. And the tall people said, “It’s because of the tall ban, obviously.” And the short people replied, “No, it isn’t. It’s sooooo much nicer in the pubs now that everything is shorter, and when you can see across the room without lots of tall people getting in the way and deliberately elbowing you in the face. No, it’s because the supermarkets are selling tall drinks at half the price the pubs sell them. That, and the recession. Or something. And anyway, it’s not a ban.”

And so, whereas more or less everybody had been quite happy beforehand, including the middle-sized, neither-short-nor-tall people who hadn’t been bothered if everything had been ever-so-slightly too tall for them, now everybody was miserable, including the tall people and the middle-sized people, and the pub landlords. Only one or two short people remained pleased.

And when the King heard what had happened, he grew angry.  “I was told that everyone would like things smaller, including the tall people. And I was told that when things got smaller, lots of short people would come to the pubs who never had before. And I was told that the pub trade wouldn’t be in the least bit affected, but would flourish as never before.”

“Clearly, I was lied to.”

And the King issued a new decree. He commanded that all the chairs and tables be restored not just to their previous heights, but to twice the height they were before. And the same with the bars and the steps and the urinals and the ceilings. And the glasses and the plates and the bottles and everything else too.

“And furthermore,” the King added. “Because the pub landlords charged the same prices for drinks and plates of food that were half the size they had been, they must now charge exactly the same prices for drinks and plates that are twice the size.”

And with that, all the tall people returned to the pubs with their not-quite-so-tall friends, and they enjoyed the half-price drinks and the half-price food, and everybody was happy again. In fact, they were all happier than they’d ever been.

Except for a few nasty little short people.

But nobody gave a damn about them any more. Including the King, who regretted ever having listened to the little bastards.

(This improbable story may have been inspired by this).

About Frank Davis

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38 Responses to Tall Story

  1. smockr says:

    thank you, Frank! :)

  2. Walt says:


    The Swedes want to ban smoking at home while on the job:
    Landskrona municipality in southern Sweden is mulling introducing a ban on staff smoking during working hours, even if they are working from home.

    • Frank Davis says:

      The initiative, which will not apply to politicians in the municipality, has been criticised by the health and safety officer, according to the local Helsingborgs Dagblad daily.

      One law for them, and another for the rest of us.

      The most important thing is that adults set a good example,” said the education committee chairperson Lisa Flinth

      For crying out loud…

    • harleyrider says:

      Yep,I busted on that story too! The commie bastards

  3. WinstonSmith says:

    As always, there’s tons to say in afterthought of your blog post. Due to the late hour, I can only only reply with a tidbit of anecdotal knowledge.

    Being a person who has followed the issue rather closely here in the U.S., I have to say that I have never, ever heard that lower supermarket prices, or, for that matter, lower prices by any kind of retail outlet, mentioned when it comes to U.S. business losses due to smoking bans.

    It has always been the case that people will pay much more for alcohol in a bar environment than they will pay for alcohol from any kind of store.I learned this the first time I ever attended a bar. It isn’t some kind of secret–it’s always been the case.

    Meanwhile, I’ve noticed that the price of retail-purchased alcohol in the U.S. has skyrocketed way beyond the rate of inflation. When it comes to alcohol, everything costs twice what it did ten years ago. That means that the price has had 100% inflation in ten years, at the rate of 10% a year. Meanwhile, the government stated inflation rate hovers just over 2% from one year to the next.

    From my experience in the past visiting the UK, I knew to double the price on all items. Basically, what costs you a dollar in the U.S. very often costs you a pound in the U.K. If a soda is advertised as a 1 pound bargain in the UK, for example, that same soda costs 1 dollar in the U.S. Meanwhile, the dollar usually costs much less than the pound. Depending on the exchange rate, you get anywhere from sixty to eighty percent back for every dollar you exchange for a pound. (So, at best, 300 dollars will get you about 240 pounds.)

    Without further belaboring the point. people in the U.S. pay less for alcohol than anyone in the UK, despite rapid inflation in prices. Meanwhile, simply due to the market value of the currency, people in the UK have ALWAYS paid more for retail alcohol than people in the U.S.

    So, I find it curious and completely illogical that this argument of business losses being due to low retail prices for alcohol in the UK exists, while even lower prices exist here in the U.S., but I’ve never heard this argument made regarding U.S. business losses.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Interesting point. But presumably a beer bought in a US bar is more expensive than one bought in a a US supermarket, and both are less than than in the UK.

      • WinstonSmith says:

        Your blog moves along quickly, so I doubt this contributes to the discussion. Nevertheless, since I’m feeling inclined…

        You’re entirely correct; If you pay 1 pound in England, you are paying, let’s say, one dollar and sixty cents in America. But it doesn’t seem to really work out that way, from what I’ve ever been able to tell, because a bargain in England isn’t so much of a bargain if you’re a visiting American. Well, in certain areas it seems to, but there doesn’t seem to be a logic to it.

        For example, as far as I can tell, if you live in England and make 50,000 pounds a year, you’re earning a pretty good salary that probably requires a higher level of skill in a particular area or an advanced degree.

        The American equivalent of of 50,000 pounds, via the exchange rate, is somewhere between 80,000 and 90,000 dollars. I get the impression that people who make 50,000 pounds a year in England lead a very similar lifestyle to people who make 80,000 or 90,000 dollars a year in America. So, it seems to equal out.

        But this doesn’t make any sense when I’ve visited any kind of retail outlet in England. Groceries cost twice as much, gas costs at least double, if not triple, and the taxes are much higher. (There’s no VAT in America, for example.)

        So, while both a pint bought in a bar and a six pack bought at a store in the U.S. still costs less in the U.S. than in the UK, I can’t figure out why the response to difference in price causes lower supermarket prices to be blamed for loss of business in the face of smoking bans, while no such thing is mentioned in the U.S., where the prices for retail (versus bar/pub alcohol) have skyrocketed in the past ten years or so.

        It’s difficult to make sense of all of this unless you’re an American who has visited England a few times, or vice versa. And, as I stated, I’ve never been able to make sense of it.

  4. Tim says:

    You forgot to add at the end, “And they all lived happily after ever – The End.”

    Hah – big news item on the local SF, CA, USA news tonight – SF Bay Area has some of the highest numbers of child asthma cases in the country/world right now. I wonder – could it be that SF Bay Area hasn’t been and continues to be one of the most draconianly smoke-banned cities in the world, extending to all outdoor areas, everywhere, entire towns smoke-banned – and now the highest number of asthma cases in the country. Makes me wonder since there’s obviously a correlation going on – smoke bans increase, now asthma cases have increased – one correlates (or “causes” using anti-smoking terminology) with the other. Where’s Stanton Glantz’s computer program that determines the correlation for this one, since it’s in his own backyard – maybe too busy correlating heart attacks using false cherry picked data instead.

    • Frank Davis says:

      As I regularly remark, doctors used to prescribe smoking as a treatment for asthma 60 or more years ago. And it’s common knowledge that asthma cases have been multiplying alarmingly in recent decades. I don’t remember any kids having asthma when I was a boy.

      • churchmouse says:

        Same here, except I knew only one. No other siblings in that family were affected. Their mum smoked; I’m not sure about the dad (seemed to be working away from home a lot).

        Great story, Frank — a keeper!

      • Rose says:

        But cigarettes are not the same as when we were young.

        “Prior to 1970, the use of additives in tobacco products was prohibited without special permission from the Commissioners of Customs and Excise, under Section 176 of the Customs and Excise Act, 1952. This permission was given only within very strict limits and mainly in respect of flavourings in tobacco products other than cigarettes. The prohibition extended to the importation of tobacco products containing additives as well as a ban on the production of cigarettes with additives for export.”

        “The rise of additives in tobacco products is intimately linked with the strategy to reduce tar yields. The amount of tar and nicotine in smoke is measured by a standard smoking machine in which the cigarette is smoked with a fixed puff volume and frequency with tar and nicotine residues collected on a filter and weighed. Governments have insisted on reducing tar levels as measured by this approach, hoping that this would reduce tar exposure to smokers — and therefore lead to reduced harm.

        “The tobacco industry argues that one of the key purposes of additives is to make lower tar cigarettes more palatable. The ISCSH accepts this and notes:
        “Some smokers find existing low and low to middle tar brands unsatisfying, but if those who smoked middle or middle to high tar cigarettes could switch to low tar brands whose acceptability was improved by additives, the dangers of smoking could be reduced.
        The Committee recognises the potential value of using flavouring additives in this way.”
        password required

        The original medicinal herb has been detuned and the amount of road vehicles kicking out substances we’ve never encountered before, has gone up astronomically.

    • smokervoter says:

      This will cover both this comment and your previous posting. I got to thinking about antismokers I’ve known and one that took a long while to come to mind happens to be one of my good buddies.

      By sheer fluke I converted the son-of-a-gun from an antismoker into a happy Camel’s smoker. We were bar-hopping down in Ensenada, Mexico one night and I offered him a cigarette on a lark. To my surprise, he actually enjoyed the damned thing and proceeded to bum another ten or so the rest of the night. Just like that, a 180-degree change.

      Now that he smokes regularly I ask him why he used to be so down on it. His reason – asthma!

      Says it sharply cuts down his attacks. Who knew?

  5. Frank J says:

    Ah, but the little bastards couldn’t say that tall people are ‘killing’ us. It’s a great narrative. Should be sent to every bastard MP who voted for the ban.

  6. Short people are a health risk. I’ve known many tall people who’ve been seriously injured tripping over them. And, unlike with secondary smoke, these are not mere statistical abstractions, but real people with real injuries clogging real emergency rooms.

    I’m not saying we should discriminate against the tykes, just pass a reasonable regulation requiring elevator-type footwear to bring them up to a decent 5′ 8″ or thereabouts.

    It’s not a ban. Just a regulation.

    – MJM

    • harleyrider says:

      Now Mike,all those poor munshkins in the WIZARD OF OZ movie have hurt feelings!

      I think maybe we could build our own LOLLY POP LAND…….called a speak easy!

      And invite Frank with all the rest to come have a smokin party with us!

  7. Rose says:

    I have to agree MJM

    Being a tall person with a tendency to wear high heeled boots, small people scattered amongst crowds can be a dreadful menace.
    It’s a great strain on the knees as you suddenly come to an shuddering halt to avoid tripping over one of them.

    I know they don’t mean to be inconsiderate, but when they are walking in crowds, rather than your reasonable suggestion of being forced to wear elevator heels, if they could at least try to grade themselves in terms of height and try to walk in a clump, we would have a better chance of avoiding them.


    • Brigitte says:

      small people scattered amongst crowds can be a dreadful menace.
      One does what one can (I am 5’1″ ‘-a-bit)!!!! and in the company of tall people…

      Nevertheless, here the view of a (non-smoking) “short” friend of mine:
      I used to frequently climb on chairs to see my pint being pulled, joking with the tall people by the bar; going to a festival meant having a seat on a tall person’s shoulder to have the best view of the concert and, best of all, farts in a pub = hot air, so it goes upwards; I have always CLEAR air to breathe. Why would I wish to change this?

      In short: a handful of loud, dim, confidence-lacking, scared-to-death other short people have destroyed my much enjoyed “exercise” (if I don’t go to a pub I can’t climb onto a bar stool to watch my pint being pulled) and my enjoyment. You see, the tall people, whose fun loving, relaxed company I enjoyed have become resentful of me and won’t carry me on their shoulder at concerts anymore.
      And since the tall people have been kicked out the pubs I do not wish to go there anymore, either. I hate the cut down furniture and bar and most of all, I hate the way tall people have to crouch and duck. Now they just look miserable. And so do I.

      Give us the tall people as they were back!!!

  8. TheBigYin says:

    I’m a tall person (six foot) married to a short person (five foot two) for the past forty years this August and have had no problems about both our statures, except for the odd ‘sizeist’ remark from the intolerant. I am 14 years younger than my wife but have had no problems except for the odd ‘ageist’ remark from the intolerant.
    Both my wife and I are smokers and all of a sudden the intolerant are legion.
    I await the day when the tolerant are cowed!

  9. TheBigYin says:

    *I meant to say the intolerant are cowed. Should have went to specsavers.

  10. In the first 30 years of my life I knew three people with asthma. One of them was smoke-intolerant/triggered. Only one of the three had what might be called serious attacks. You can get a sense of how rare it was and how it was treated by reading King’s “IT” and noting the one asthmatic kid from the 50s/60s being treated with a sugar water inhaler.

    Re beer prices: A beer in an average bar here costs perhaps double to triple what a McDonald’s burger costs ($4 to $6 as opposed to $2). A can of beer from the supermarket might cost about half what burger costs. So the price disaparity is about 400% between the two. (I’ll confess though: I don’t drink beer or eat McBurgers, so my perception of the prices may be a little bit off, but I think they’re about right.)

    A pack of cigarettes without taxes would be about $1.50, the average price with taxes is about $5, and the price in NY City with absurd taxes is about $11+. Meanwhile of course the Big Tobacco folks are happy as pigs in mud: they can slip in a 50 cent per pack profit increase and no one even notices.

    btw… the US Congress is now looking at the possibility of ANOTHER 100% (i.e. $1) tax increase on a pack of cigarettes at the federal level here, and also ANOTHER 2,000% tax increase over the base tax of $1 pound for rolling tobacco at the tax rate of three years ago (when Obama hit it with the initial $24/pound tax increase that’s featured on GasDoc’s blog at:


    The last 2,000% increase was to insure the health of children the nonsmokers were too selfish to insure themselves. The new 2,000% increase is to pay for handicapped people that the healthy folks are too selfish to pay for.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

    • harleyrider says:

      Guaranteed to make blackmarket cigs the only game in town,but think of the jobs it will create for the unemployed and under employed masses……Let alone all the new government made ELLIOT NESSES in this great depression the world is now in!

      Hey I hear black helocopters over my tobacco patch………..

    • Brigitte says:

      Growing up I knew NOBODY suffering from asthma. It just did not exist in the smoke filled households.

      Later both my sons were diagnosed with it, one with severe asthma, so initially I followed the “don’t smoke” advice (followed by numerous rides with my youngest in an ambulance ending with lectures on the child mortality rate of asthma) until I read somewhere that smoking used to be the choice of treatment. So I relaxed my imposed rule a little (with sleepless nights!!!). [What I thought was curious, was, that my GP at the time (still regret that he retired a few years ago) never seemed to acknowledge what was obviously is a smoking household.]
      There were no more ambulance rides after that. And no more hospital admissions.

      There are times to trust common sense and gut feeling.

  11. harleyrider says:

    The new 2,000% increase is to pay for handicapped people that the healthy folks are too selfish to pay for.

    In the end they will get nothing, A bridge built to nowhere plan I’d call it.

  12. timbone says:

    Very good Frank. I remember some time ago you spoke about using your obviously active imagination combining that with well honed writing skills. You did in fact try out a couple of episodes of a story which contained a slight Steven King/James Herbert slant.

  13. Rose says:

    “As I regularly remark, doctors used to prescribe smoking as a treatment for asthma 60 or more years ago.”

    That was doubtless based on years of observation,before anti-tobacco became all pervading, but as things progress you can sometimes find explanations of these phenomena.

    I am finding a plausible explanation coming up, right alongside studies confidently stating the opposite.

    The Role of GSH in Asthma

    “It has been long thought that low levels of glutathione and glutathione peroxidase levels play a role in the onset and progression of asthma.

    Numerous studies in asthmatics have identified such abnormalities in the red-blood GSH, white-blood cell GSH, serum GSH, platelet GSH and lung-fluid GSH.

    There is a direct correspondence between low glutathione levels and the severity of the asthma attack.”

    Glutathione prevents the early asthmatic reaction and airway hyperresponsiveness in guinea pigs.


    “The prevalence of asthma has increased worldwide. The reasons for this rise remain unclear. Oxidative stress plays an important role in the pathogenesis of asthma. Glutathione (GSH) is the major representative of the class of nonprotein thiols and plays a pivotal role in a variety of enzymatic and nonenzymatic reactions that protect tissues against oxidative stress.”

    Experts prove link between pollution and damage to lungs
    “URBAN smog damages the lungs of children and could cause asthma, says the first study to confirm a widely suspected, but never proven link between pollution and breathing problems.
    Researchers at the University of California, Davis, found that breathing ozone, a key component of urban smog, for five months increased sensitivity to dust mites, a component of household dust that is a common trigger of asthma attacks.

    Charles Plopper, the leader of the research team, said rhesus monkeys that had been breathing ozone for five months developed symptoms similar to those of a child with borderline asthma. Their lung capacity was reduced and they wheezed when briefly exposed to the dust mite allergen, said Prof Plopper.

    Monkeys that had continually breathed ozone and the allergen had even more severe reactions, similar to full-blown asthma attacks, with rapid, shallow breathing and decreased oxygen levels in their blood.”

    The lungs of these monkeys also made more mucus than usual, clogging the airways, and the monkeys had unusually low levels of glutathione, a chemical that protects the lungs from free radicals.
    Prof Plopper said: “That puts them at risk for other types of lung injury.”

    Normal alveolar epithelial lining fluid contains high levels of glutathione.

    “The epithelial cells on the alveolar surface of the human lower respiratory tract are vulnerable to toxic oxidants derived from inhaled pollutants or inflammatory cells. Although these lung cells have intracellular antioxidants, these defenses may be insufficient to protect the epithelial surface against oxidants present at the alveolar surface
    “The total glutathione (the reduced form GSH and the disulfide GSSG) concentration of normal ELF was 140-fold higher than that in plasma of the same individuals, and 96% of the glutathione in ELF was in the reduced form.

    Compared with nonsmokers, cigarette smokers had 80% higher levels of ELF total glutathione, 98% of which was in the reduced form.”

    Studies of cultured lung epithelial cells and fibroblasts demonstrated that these concentrations of reduced glutathione were sufficient to protect these cells against the burden of H2O2 in the range released by alveolar macrophages removed from the lower respiratory tract of nonsmokers and smokers, respectively, suggesting that the glutathione present in the alveolar ELF of normal individuals likely contributes to the protective screen against oxidants in the extracellular milieu of the lower respiratory tract.”

    The other studies seem to take that smoking depletes glutathione as a given.

  14. Rose, I think that last entry qualifies you for the title:

    The Encyclopedia Roseannica


  15. Frank Davis says:

    Dr William Whitby wrote about smoking preventing asthma in The Smoking Scare Debunked.

  16. timbone says:

    There is quite a lot of research showing that “Statins show promise in slowing smoking-induced lung damage”, http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/10/23/20729.aspx

    Ha! you can of course ‘bet your bottom dollar’ that this revelation was soon followed by guestimates saying “Smoking Diminishes the Beneficial Effect of Statins”, http://ang.sagepub.com/content/52/9/575.short

  17. Junican says:

    Is it not odd that none of these studies have ‘cures’ as their objective?

  18. Pingback: Can’t Explain | Frank Davis

  19. Brigitte says:

    There is quite a lot of research showing that “Statins show promise in slowing smoking-induced lung damage”

    Lung cancer might be the least of the problems; it is well known that statins do have serious side effects …


  20. Rose says:

    “There were no more ambulance rides after that. And no more hospital admissions.
    There are times to trust common sense and gut feeling.”

    Now you see Brigitte, that’s what interests me, there HAS to be a logical reason for the effect you observed.

    Let me run this past your medical mind.

    Just as an aside.

    Treatment of Asthma by Nicotinic Acid

    Click to access brmedj03990-0011.pdf

    “Asthma symptoms occur when the tissues of the lungs become inflamed and the muscles in the airways contract, making breathing difficult.

    One measurable marker of asthma-related inflammation is high levels of nitric oxide (NO) in the breath; it is known that the higher the exhaled NO, the greater the inflammation of the lungs.”

    But now we know that the body produces nitric oxide and carbon monoxide as part of the immune system in response to injury, not as just a by product of the illness.

    Premature Babies Benefit From Inhaling Nitric Oxide At Shands At The University Of Florida

    “GAINESVILLE, Fla.—A gas commonly found in smog and cigarette smoke actually helps premature babies by opening blood vessels in their underdeveloped lungs, causing blood oxygen levels to rise, University of Florida researchers report. Though researchers have not yet put nitric oxide to the kind of rigorous scientific scrutiny that would allow them to declare the gas saves lives, early indications point to a significant improvement in the health of the sickest pre-term infants.”

    10 years later

    Inhaled Nitric Oxide Safe For Tiny Preemie Lungs, Study Finds

    “A nationwide study led by researchers at UCSF provides evidence that inhaled nitric oxide is safe and effective for the prevention of the most common type of long-term lung disease of very premature infants.

    “Chronic lung disease is a major source of morbidity in these infants. Neonatologists have been trying to figure out how to prevent it for years,” said Philip Ballard, MD, PhD, lead study author and professor of pediatrics at UCSF.

    The benefit of inhaled nitric oxide for infants born close to term who suffer from the lung disease known as pulmonary hypertension has been known for some time, but the effect in preemies had not been clearly determined, according to Ballard.

    Nitric oxide is a gaseous compound normally produced by the body, however, premature infants produce insufficient amounts.”

    Inhaled nitric oxide. A bronchodilator in mild asthmatics with methacholine-induced bronchospasm.

    “Our data suggest that inhalation of nitric oxide by patients with mild asthma with methacholine-induced bronchospasm results in a minor but significant relaxation of airway tone.”

    Increased carbon monoxide in exhaled air of asthmatic patients.

    “Exhaled carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations were measured on a CO monitor by vital capacity maneuvers in asthmatic patients receiving or not receiving inhaled corticosteroids and in nonsmoking and smoking healthy control subjects. CO was detectable and measured reproducibly in the exhaled air of all subjects. The exhaled CO concentrations were higher in asthmatic patients not receiving inhaled corticosteroids (5.6+/-0.6 ppm, p < 0.001) and similar in asthmatic patients receiving inhaled corticosteroids (1.7+/-0.1 ppm) compared with those in nonsmoking healthy control subjects (1.5+/-0.1 ppm).
    Smoking healthy control subjects had the highest levels of exhaled CO concentration among the groups"

    'Surprise benefit from carbon monoxide'

    "Scientists believe that carbon monoxide may be of benefit to patients with serious lung conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

    New research has revealed that that people with COPD who were given a small amount of the gas showed signs of improvement in their condition.

    Researchers at the University Medical Centre in Groningen, the Netherlands, found that the gas appeared to ease the inflammation of lung tissues when given in low doses over a four-day period."

    Now COPD is an interesting one, a look back into our past.

    Apparently in the days before the Great London Smog, it was generally considered that the properly burnt white smoke was harmless but the incompletely burnt black smoke, full of what we now know to be elemental carbon, was the harmful one.

    Indoor air pollution behind COPD, not smoking: study

    "You don't have to be a smoker to suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Indoor air pollution is enough for one to contract the infection, says the first-of-its-kind study conducted at 22 villages of Pune.

    Out of 3,000 people randomly selected for the study, 210 suffered from COPD. "At least 93 per cent of those who had COPD were non smokers," says Dr Sundeep Salvi, coordinator of the Chest Research Foundation (CRF).

    Among those identified to have COPD, only 7% were smokers and 93% were never smokers, indicating that smoking is clearly not the most important risk factor for COPD in India. More importantly, 23% of the COPDs occurred in age group less than 40 years, which has not been reported earlier, says Salvi.

    It has always been believed that COPD starts occurring after 40 years and above in people who have smoked for over 15-20 years. But in India, indoor air pollution seems to be the most important cause so the disease occurs in earlier age groups as well because of exposures from childhood, he explained."

    And why?

    Your lungs at higher risk from wood smoke, dung cakes

    "The study was conducted in 22 rural villages in Pune district with a population of over 1 lakh. As many as 3,000 adults over the age of 25 years were randomly selected for the study which used a standardised respiratory health questionnaire and spirometry (lung function test for determining COPD).

    In the western, tobacco smoking is believed to be the most important risk factor for COPD. However, recent evidence refutes this. "Exposure to biomass fuel smoke is the biggest risk factor, not only for India, but even globally. Compared to 1.1 billion smokers, more than 3 billion people (50% of the global population) use biomass fuel for cooking and heating purposes worldwide," Salvi said.

    "A woman living in a rural home in India spends on an average 60,000 hours cooking during her lifetime, during which she inhales a total volume of 25 million litres of polluted air. This causes extensive damage to the lungs leading to the development of COPD," he said."

    So it would appear that the smokers with their "80% higher levels of ELF total glutathione, 98% of which was in the reduced form" , when exposed to same amount of biomass smoke, resist the lung damage for considerably longer.

    Which would tie in with the fact that the worse the air pollution, the more they smoke, just as we did in the 50's.

    And strangely enough even, Mustard gas if I read this study correctly.

    Mustard Gas exposure and carcinogenesis of the lung – Iran

    RESULTS: A relatively early age of lung cancer onset (ranging from 28 to 73 with a mean of 48) in mustard gas victims, particularly those in the non-smoking population (mean age of 40.7), may be an indication of a unique etiology for these cancers.
    Seven of the 20 patients developed lung cancer before the age of 40."

    "Five of 16 cancers from which DNA sequence data was obtainable provided information on eight p53 mutations (within exons 5-8). These mutations were predominately G to A transitions; a mutation consistent with the DNA lesion caused by SM. Two of the lung cancers had multiple p53 point mutations, similar to results obtained from factory workers chronically exposed to mustard agent."

    Which now I come to think of it,might interest Dave Atherton.

    "The dramatic growth of lung cancer in the 1920s and 1930s was not at first attributed to smoking: the influenza pandemic of 1919 was sometimes blamed, as were automobile exhaust, dust from newly tarred roads, diverse occupational exposures (including tar and diverse polycyclic hydrocarbons), increasing exposure to X rays, exposure to chemical warfare agents during the First World War,.."

    Sorry for the huge rambling post Frank, I must try your patience sometimes,please look on it as an insight into the garbled workings of my brain.

  21. timbone says:

    Brigitte, that is why I take a heavy dose of co enzyme Q10 every day

    • Brigitte says:

      timbone, Yep.
      Deficiency of coenzyme Q has been described based on failure of biosynthesis caused by gene mutation, inhibition of biosynthesis by HMG coA reductase inhibitors (statins) or for unknown reasons in ageing and cancer. Correction of deficiency requires supplementation with higher levels of coenzyme Q than are available in the diet.

      There is one thing (I have mentioned this before) worthwhile looking into; BIOLOGICAL VARIATION. There are people walking about who do e.g. live happily with a e.g. Potassium level of 6.0 mmol/L. This is “normally” classed as high level. On treatment these people are not well any more and other signs of strange biochemical reactions occur. Eventually someone (no idea, who) had this idea which, to me, makes sense.
      As with everything one looks into; there are always the odd great deviations for no obvious reasons. Usually these are discarded as errors. They are not errors, they are values which just do not fit into what has been standardized as the norm.
      So, what may well be the norm for the majority of people is not the norm for a small group of people.
      Here the concept for accommodating biological variation:

      Unfortunately I do not have high cholesterol levels, so I can’t put “life with statins/life without statins” to the test.
      timbone, I do not know if your increased cholesterol (btw, what is the HDL/LDL ratio?) is something you always had or if it is a recent occurrence. So remain cautious. As much as I dislike it – I could be wrong…..
      Rose, you must be a walking encyclopedia……. (I agree with Michael; you do qualify for the title
      The Encyclopedia Roseannica)

      My initial response was that I was not too sure about the CO in exhaled air; CO binds to the iron in haemoglobin much stronger than O2 does and usually is locked there for the average of ca. 30 days the red blood cell is in circulation.
      But then I did remember something, so I had to make a quick phone call to confirm. CO CAN be displaced by increasing the amount of O2 available to the red cells.

      This also explains my unusually (for a smoker) low CO levels
      Whoa-hey!!! Putting on my skates – got to tackle that bench by the trees again……

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