Dying Young, Aged 69

jeanelledegruchy2Haringey Director of Public Health (right) in BMJ:

David Bowie has died. From cancer. So much outpouring of grief. And yes I participated, posting #RIPBowie tweets and reminiscing about seeing him in concert in Montreal as an 18 year old with all who would listen, shedding a tear listening to the day long radio tributes as I felt my youth slipping away with his passing. And yet everything I watched, on TV, on YouTube, on Facebook and in the many pictures, there it was, revelling in its strong silent presence and mocking us for our complicity, the killer that took him away from us aged only 69…

Only 69? One of the things the healthist brigade has done in the last few years has been to move the goalposts about how long people can expect to live. When I was young, living to the age of 70 was about the most anyone could hope for. It was a ripe old age, and I’m not far off it these days.

When my grandfather died aged 71, nobody said he was “only 71″.

But these days we’re somehow all expected to live to the age of 80 or 90. Anything short of that is a “premature” death.

And who’s living to 80 or 90 these days? Why, the hard-smoking wartime generation.

Anyway, despite having no more information than anyone else, Haringey’s health director knows what caused Bowie’s “premature” death:

Yes Bowie stopped smoking some years ago, but those who were HIV positive are likely to have changed their behaviour too. For them both, the extra bullets had already been loaded in the gun for the Russian roulette of diseases that would kill them.

Yup, smoking. He gave up smoking 12 years ago, but it killed him anyway.

We know that Bowie died from cancer. There is a small amount of online speculation about whether it was liver cancer—primary, or perhaps secondary to lung cancer; we know that smoking is a major risk factor for cancer. Given that previously he has been open about his struggle with alcohol and drug misuse, it seems odd that Bowie and his family have been so guarded about the details of his death.

Perhaps his family is grieving? And perhaps they don’t believe that his widely reported (not speculative) liver cancer was caused by smoking? What’s truly speculative is to link liver cancer first to lung cancer and thence to smoking.

Yet, the tobacco industry did very well from their product placement through Bowie—even more so following the wide coverage of his death and surge in viewing of Bowie smoking footage. It makes me angry, angry that he died so young—and angry that no one is lamenting this, as if death from cancer is random and unpredictable, and no-one is responsible. It makes me angry that my hero has allowed this to happen, to influence so many more to start or continue smoking, and to die quietly, without speaking out in rage about this needless, profit-making killer.

There it is again: died so young. And why the heck should David Bowie have shared this Haringey Public Health director’s hatred of smoking? He was an artist, not a health campaigner.

Incidentally, according to this health zealot, stopping smoking made no difference anyway: the extra bullets had already been loaded in Bowie’s Russian roulette gun. In which case, why try to get smokers to stop smoking? It won’t help them to live any longer. But I bet that hasn’t stopped Haringey from offering smoking cessation advice, and continuing the relentless persecution of Haringey’s smokers.

What I found most incongruous – and contradictory – about this piece is that it’s by a antismoking health zealot who’s shedding crocodile tears over the death of someone who lived the (very, very unhealthy) sex-and-drugs rock star life to the full. Why wasn’t he saying that it served him right to die so young, after living that kind of life, and making all that damn music?

But the explanation only became clear to me half way through writing this piece. When I first saw the photo at the top, I thought it was of a young David Bowie. But after examining it closely, I decided it must be some other man. But that proved to be a mistake as well: the photo is actually of a woman called Jeanelle de Gruchy, who is Haringey’s Director of Public Health, and also a lesbian who happens to look a bit like David Bowie, and who clearly identified with the gender-bending early Bowie. Sexual politics has beaten healthism for once.

The only real shame about David Bowie is that he stopped smoking, and started eating cauliflower puree, and ceased touring and making music. Funny how his “healthy” lifestyle coincided with his artistic sterility. He would have done much better to have carried on smoking and eating English fry-ups, and making music and touring. They were all part of the package that made him what he was. After all, like the lady says, if the Russian roulette gun had already been loaded, he was always going to die young anyway, at the ripe old age of 69.

About the archivist

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Dying Young, Aged 69

  1. hejno says:

    Yeah- that’s the really “fun” thing from the health facists; they urge you to stop smoking and paint you a rainbow about how rosy things will be once you stop- then when someone dies of cancer: But OF COURSE- you did smoke 15 years ago so this is what you should expect!

  2. The Blocked Dwarf says:

    death from cancer is random and unpredictable, and no-one is responsible

    Pretty sure there was a major study recently that said exactly that ie Cancer is simply bad luck.
    No one is responsible unless they happen to have spiked Bowie’s Mong Bean & Tofspew Bake with Strontium or any other of the ‘iums’ what glow in the dark.

    Hell, even if one believes that ‘cigarettes cause cancer’ (and let us not forget that belief =absence of fact) the only person responsible for Bowie’s death would be Bowie himself…or did someone force him to smoke the same way they forced him to do drugs or drink his liver into submission?

  3. Barry Homan says:

    There’s that gender-neutral look again. Looks sick.

  4. cherie79 says:

    I noticed the desperate attempt to ‘suggest’ that perhaps the liver cancer was a secondary from lung cancer, despicable. I lost my much loved young cousin tonight, she had secondary breast cancer and managed to keep it at bay for five years, rare. She was 44, a dedicated nurse who loved her job. Why she got it who knows? It was not the genetic kind. My surgeon said my lung cancer was caused by smoking – after 50 years! Yet they can’t explain why I continued to smoke and am still clear after five years. I think it is just random and I doubt who knows what triggers it.

  5. Lepercolonist says:

    From an online poster at another blog:

    “She gave up smoking 23 years before she developed cancer, but it was positively due to smoking according to the docs, as that particular cancer is a smoking cancer.”

    Doctors can not be positive about this diagnosis. 100% sure ? Bull****.

    From another poster:

    “I have to admit that as former smoker, I have become some what of a fanatic on smoking. Having your mother die from cancer and getting yourself tends to make you fanatic. A former customer of mine who is a retired Urologist said in no uncertain terms that my bladder cancer was caused by my smoking even though I quit over 30 years ago.”

    In no uncertain terms. As for doctors,do not question them, they know everything. He could never prove that smoking from 30 years ago caused bladder cancer. Medically or in a court of law.

  6. magnetic01 says:

    Ageing, particularly beyond one’s 50s, is hard going, getting more so the older one gets. But it is the exit route from the human condition. The perversity of the Public Health “gospel” is that people should be living a [statistically] “standardized” life leading to a “standardized” death at a “standardized” age. That’s just it; it’s a statistical fantasy that always accords the finger-wagging, moralizing zealots the opportunity to sermonize.

    The internet affords a particular research. There are plenty of photos on the internet of celebrities and high-profile folk generally. Pick someone from this group over the age of 50 and do a google search. The result will be a range of photos over their adult life. You can check the ageing process. The older they are – into their 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s – the more “worn” they look. It’s interesting to see the transformation from their “young selves” to their “old selves”, physically at least.

    It doesn’t matter how “healthy” someone has been living, the ravages of time will have their effect. For some it will be more protracted than others over time, but the effects much the same. A year at age 70 is not like a year at age 20; a year at age 80 is not like a year at age 50. The perception of time changes, the physical system and reflexes deteriorate. It’s been going on for the entirety of the human condition.

    The moralizing zealots of Public Health always barge their way in, reducing people’s lives to fatal disease and age at death. What a terrible superficial view. The questionable adage of “only the good die young” has been inverted into the equally questionable “only the good die very, very, old”. And “the unexamined life is not worth living” has been changed to “the medically unexamined life is not worth living”.

    For example, here’s Richard Dean Anderson, now 66, who played McGyver in the TV series of the same name:

    Here’s Paul Michael Glaser, a health fanatic, who played Starsky in “Starsky and Hutch” in the 1970s:

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    Seems lately all the actors from the 1950s are all living into their 90s quite well.

  8. waltc says:

    Here’a link to something on the Just Bad Luck theory of cancer, tho the researchers add that lung and skin cancer odds are (unspecified integer) higher than random. The question asked at the time we discussed the study here was: How much higher? since the answer would, at the same time, exponentially reduce the risk level of “risky behavior” and cloud any efforts to make a direct link.


    I’m also amused that the androgynis Jenelle didn’t consider that drugs, booze and hard living (let alone bad luck) could have anything to do with it; only the smoking. Nor in her scheme could it conjecturably be liver cancer that spread to the lung, only the other way around. The facts must be bent to fit the theory.

  9. Rose says:

    An article that caught my eye the other day.

    Heavy smokers who quit more than 15 years ago still at high risk for lung cancer and should be screened
    26 Jan 2016

    They found that, compared to other risk categories, patients who quit smoking for 15 to 30 years accounted for the greatest percentage of patients with lung cancer who didn’t qualify for screening. The newly defined high-risk group constituted 12 percent of the hospital cohort and 17 percent of the community cohort.

    “We were surprised to find that the incidence of lung cancer was proportionally higher in this subgroup, compared to other subgroups of former cigarette smokers,” says Dr. Yang.

    “The common assumption is that after a person has quit for so many years, the lung cancer rate would be so low that it wouldn’t be noticeable. We found that assumption to be wrong. This suggests we need to pay attention to people who quit smoking more than 15 years ago, because they are still at high risk for developing lung cancer.”

    Now whatever is behind it and assuming it’s true – there’s that “recovery period” again that they used on mice and that 15 years in the Medscape article.

    1995 – 2010

    “In 1995, California passed one of the first antismoking laws in the nation when it banned smoking in enclosed workspaces.
    This might have encouraged more people to quit smoking than in other parts of the country and might help account for the preponderance of patients in the earlier stages of cancer.”

    Many Lung Cancer Patients Stopped Smoking Years Before Diagnosis

    “July 14, 2010 (Los Angeles, California) — Much of what people think they know about smoking and lung cancer might be wrong, according to findings presented here at the 11th International Lung Cancer Conference.”

    “60% of our cohort developed lung cancer despite doing the right thing by stopping smoking over 1 decade ago,” according to the researchers.

    These findings contradict the popular perception that most people with lung cancer are ongoing smokers who did not kick the habit until cancer symptoms appeared, the researchers note”

    “In 1995, California passed one of the first antismoking laws in the nation when it banned smoking in enclosed workspaces.
    This might have encouraged more people to quit smoking than in other parts of the country and might help account for the preponderance of patients in the earlier stages of cancer.”

    http: //www.medscape.com/viewarticle/725138

  10. Frank Davis says:

    I posted a link to the above piece under the BMJ article. It was there last night. Gone this morning.

    • Rose says:

      The reason I’m particularly interested is that when people give up in dribs and drabs you can only really speculate on the consequences , what you need is a mass quit event, like the California ban in 1995 when lots of people gave up all at once those consequences should eventually show up in the numbers.

      According to Melanie Read in 2007 – “Prepare to be ostracised, all you smokers of England”

      “The organisation Ash hopes that four million people, or almost 40 per cent of smokers, will stop because of the ban.”

      Whether they did or not, using the 15 years, the results should be coming through in 2022.

      From what I can make out, the early effects like diabetes type 2 and enormous weight gain are attributed in some places to a systemic inflammation that seems to set in after giving up.

      I wonder.

      • Rose says:


        Top of the page on google.

        Feeling the heat – the link between inflammation and cancer

        “Our body’s immune system forms a defensive shield that any fighting force would be proud of. One of its most powerful weapons is inflammation, a carefully orchestrated manoeuvre designed to eliminate enemies such as bacteria, injured cells and chemical irritants. Without it, we probably wouldn’t survive beyond infancy.

        But inflammation has a split personality – one that can wreak havoc for those unfortunate enough to experience it. And we now know that inflammation’s dark side is a powerful force in cancer development, where it aids and abets tumour growth and spread around the body.”

        “And after finding immune cells in tumour samples, Rudolf Virchow was the first to ask whether inflammation might also contribute to cancer.

        Unfortunately, he was right – many chronic inflammatory diseases (such as pancreatitis and Crohn’s disease) can increase a person’s cancer risk. And cancers caused by infectious agents (like stomach cancer caused by infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, or liver cancer caused by infection with the hepatitis B or C virus) are characterised by one thing: chronic inflammation.

        In the case against inflammation, the evidence is damning.”


        But as we all know by now, correlation is not causation.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          If correlation always showed a 100% consistency rate then we might could say causation.

          That’s how the Nazis think that even no correlation as in their insane linked to junk science is some how literally causation.

          If you haven’t read the latest SHS now causes obesity and type 2 diabetes in children according to their latest fantasy land study just released.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          Passive smoking may make kids obese – The Economic Times

          Exposure to second-hand smoking may make children obese and amplify their risk of cardiovascular disease.

          WASHINGTON: Exposure to second-hand smoking may make children obese and amplify their risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, a new study has warned.

          Researchers looked at passive smoke exposure in 220 overweight or obese boys and girls aged between 7 and 11 years.

          They found smoke exposure associated with nearly all measures of adiposity in the children, including bigger bellies and overall fat.

          “Every single one of our cognitive measures was poorer in the smoke-exposed children,” said Catherine Davis from Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University in US.

          Percentages of body fat in smoke-exposed children were substantially higher than in their also heavy peers, further amplifying their risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and more, she said.

          “All the bad things fat does to us, passive smoking makes worse,” said Martha S Tingen from Augusta University.

          “And children who were exposed to second-hand smoke scored poorer on all cognitive tests, shortfalls that can translate to a poorer attention span and lower grades in the classroom and on standardised tests,” she added.

          Researchers collected both parental reports of their children’s smoke exposure as well as blood levels of cotinine, the major metabolite of nicotine, which is often used as a definitive test of smoking or passive smoke exposure. They also assessed levels of physical activity, which can impact fatness, sleep and diabetes risk.

          They found surprisingly that passive smoke exposure did not appear to worsen breathing problems, such as snoring and short periods of not breathing while the children slept.

          It also appeared unrelated – at least at this early age – to prediabetes, insulin resistance and fat around internal organs in the abdomen.

          Fat around the organs is considered a particularly high-risk factor for vascular disease and diabetes and ultimately heart disease and stroke.

          However, the larger waist size found in the children exposed to smoke also is considered a risk factor for these obesity-related health problems.

          The study found passive smoke had an impact on cognition that was independent of fat or socioeconomic status.

          “If you are breathing in second-hand smoke, it is almost as bad as if you were smoking the cigarette yourself,” said Tingen.

          Tailored interventions covering nutrition, physical activity and tobacco use in children and their families affected by these adverse health scenarios are needed to prevent adverse outcomes, researchers said.

          The findings were published in the journal Childhood Obesity.


        • magnetic01 says:

          SHS and childhood obesity

          This “study”’s findings make no sense whatsoever in historical context. Post-WWII smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke was commonplace. If what these researchers suggest has any validity, then obesity in children should have been rife from the 1950s. It wasn’t.

        • nisakiman says:


          Observation has never been the strong suit of Tobacco Control, or indeed of the assembled multitudes who hang on their every word. It never ceases to amaze me how short people’s memories are. It would seem that SHS became suddenly and inexplicably deadly sometime around 1990. Prior to that, it was completely benign.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          Weve had 600 years of public smoking……………..no correlation nor causation to be found.
          Weve always had obesity within the human race.

    • Smoking Lamp says:

      Mo surprise the Orwellian ‘fact checkers’ are increasingly censoring any and all dissent at all site. They must be afraid that their bunco scheme is unravelling.

      • Smoking Lamp says:

        I tried to post “More antismoking propaganda. Smoking is not the cause of all cancers. It may be a risk factor for some; but it is an outright exaggeration to claim smoking causes all cancers is an outright lie.” Of course it remains in limbo (pending) status…

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          SL they cant even prove smoking is a cause of cancer much less to any disease they claim.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        SL its been that way for about 3 years now big time……….

        Look at this they claim it makes kids obese yet their sample was only obese kids to begin with.

        Researchers looked at passive smoke exposure in 220 overweight or obese boys and girls aged between 7 and 11 years.

  11. garyk30 says:

    ex-smokers have more lung cancer because lung cancer is a disease of old age and ex-smokers have a higher % of old(over 65) people.

    There are about:
    1. current smokers = 45 million
    2. ex-smokers = 48 million
    3. never-smokers= 133 million

    Over 65 =44 million

    a.current smokers over 65 = 10% or 4.4 million
    b. ex-smokers over 65 = 40% or 17.6 million
    c.never-smokers over 65 = 50% or 22 million

    1a. current smokers over 65 are 9.8% of total current smokers
    2b. ex-smokers over 65 are 36.7% of the total ex-smokers
    3c. never-smokers over 65 are 16.5% of the total never-smokers

  12. garyk30 says:

    Is Bowie’s death at 69 that unusual?

    By definition, 50% of all deaths are below the median age of death.

    A so-called ‘pre-mature’ death is not abnormal.

    50% of never-smoker’s deaths are going to be pre-mature, below the median age of death.

    No matter what you do or do not do, there is a 50% probability you will die a ‘pre-mature death’.

    If there had never been a smoker, 50% of deaths would still be pre-mature.

  13. smokingscot says:

    Unfortunately here’s another one gone to cancer. Terry Wogan.

    He never smoked.


    Simon Clark has done his (thoughtful, considerate) tribute:


    • Smoking Lamp says:

      Wait, how can he die so young? And of cancer? I thought only smokers died before 100 and only smokers got cancer. Oh my, what shall we ban now? Tea?

  14. harleyrider1978 says:

    It comes from eggplant too, and tomatoes,” Melissa Goodwin told Jeffers. “It’s not tobacco.”

    Kentucky city bans e-cigarette usage in public space

    Exhaled vapor contains particles that can lodge into lungs and is composed of harmful chemicals known to cause cancer, like formaldehyde, according to the research presented to the commission board.


    THATS AN ABSOLUTE LIE and it came from a Japanese junk researcher who admitted he purposely used a HIGHER RATED BURN in the e-coil to create the claim of formaldehyde. Even in cigarette smoke it takes:

    OSHA also took on the passive smoking fraud and this is what came of it:

    Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence: Third Edition

    This sorta says it all

    These limits generally are based on assessments of health risk and calculations of concentrations that are associated with what the regulators believe to be negligibly small risks. The calculations are made after first identifying the total dose of a chemical that is safe (poses a negligible risk) and then determining the concentration of that chemical in the medium of concern that should not be exceeded if exposed individuals (typically those at the high end of media contact) are not to incur a dose greater than the safe one.

    So OSHA standards are what is the guideline for what is acceptable ”SAFE LEVELS”


    All this is in a small sealed room 9×20 and must occur in ONE HOUR.

    For Benzo[a]pyrene, 222,000 cigarettes.

    “For Acetone, 118,000 cigarettes.

    “Toluene would require 50,000 packs of simultaneously smoldering cigarettes.

    Acetaldehyde or Hydrazine, more than 14,000 smokers would need to light up.

    “For Hydroquinone, “only” 1250 cigarettes.

    For arsenic 2 million 500,000 smokers at one time.

    The same number of cigarettes required for the other so called chemicals in shs/ets will have the same outcomes.

    So, OSHA finally makes a statement on shs/ets :

    Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)…It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded.” -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec’y, OSHA

  15. harleyrider1978 says:

    ‎Audrey Silk‎ to NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H.)

    11 mins · New York, NY ·


    One more time we can slap back at those who screech about smokers getting “unfair” breaks when, having to comply with the rules, they go out to smoke:

    “Most people spend nearly one hour per day slacking off at work, a new study reveals.

    “American employees spend an average of 34 to 50 minutes loafing — watching YouTube videos, snacking and gossiping — on the job each day, according to research from National Bureau of Economics Research.

    “Half of the wasted time was spent eating, the other on ‘leisure’ activities, such as surfing the Web, chatting with co-workers and exercising, according to one study, which doesn’t count lunch break.

    “Researchers combed through more than 35,000 daily activity logs of workers and found people waste an average of 7 percent of the day not working at work.

    “The data was gathered between 2003 and 2012.”

  16. beobrigitte says:

    the killer that took him away from us aged only 69…
    That can come only from a TC infected person who just cannot have any questions about what is all around him.
    the killer that took him away from us (my family) aged only 17… was a CAR driven by a father of 3.
    I take it the Haringey Director of Public Health drives a car…..???? Isn’t he aware of being somewhere at the wrong time, at the wrong seconds and it will make him a killer, too?

    I get very frustrated when someone’s death is exploited to peddle hate.
    [And, yes, I own a car and drive it, too! Even when I smoke. That makes me a ?????]

  17. Pingback: Soupy Shoe Smiley Shamble – Library of Libraries

No need to log in

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.