'It was in the Daily Mail today,' he said, as if quoting the Bible. 'It says that more than three eggs each week greatly increases the risk of prostate cancer.'
'The Daily Mail is a reputable newspaper,' I replied, managing to keep a straight face. 'But I've written columns for what we medical folk like to call the lay press, and I understand their priorities. The average newspaper is uninterested in cold hard facts about health, and prefers instead attention-grabbing headlines. This problem is compounded by researchers desperately looking for headlines themselves, so that they get their grants beefed up.'
'But what about the eggs,' said Joe.
'Eggs always seem to get a bad rap,' I said. 'When I was a medical student eggs were public enemy number one due to their cholesterol content. Until recently, the British Heart Foundation recommended eating no more than three a week because of fears that they raised the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It only dropped the recommendation in 2007 after evidence emerged that very little of the cholesterol contained in eggs enters the bloodstream. These fashions come and go; eat away, and enjoy.'
'I'm still worried,' he said.
'That's what doctors are for,' I said. 'I have the perfect solution. A report from the British Journal of Urology (2003; 92: 211) suggested that men who ejaculated more than five times each week in their 20s, 30s, and 40s reduced their risk of developing prostate cancer by a third. Of course, further research is needed, you know how guys love to boast, and anyway these were Australians.'
'Five times each week,' he mused. 'But I'm not married.'
'Let's be frank here, we're both men of the world,' I said. 'There's nothing wrong with masturbation, though I accept it's hardly great romance. Not exactly the Capulets and the Montagues, is it?'
'But that will make it safe to eat eggs?'
'Yes,' I said encouragingly. 'Every time you eat an egg ...'
'If it's for the good of my health,' he said, visibly steeling himself. 'That's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.'