It's Christmas: be very, very careful...

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The press releases don't stop coming at this time of year; but they do change character slightly. And this year in particular, I'm hearing from a lot of hospitals and academics, and all they seem to want to do is scare me.

First to attract my attention was 'Toasting Your Health - Alcohol Tips' (basically, don't have any, at all, ever: it'll give you breast cancer and make you fat).

This was quickly followed by 'Avoiding the Deadly Hazards of Snow Shoveling' and 'Flying Champagne Corks Cause Serious, Blinding Eye Injuries Each Year'.

'Kids Don’t Get a Christmas Break from Allergies' sought to remind me that
"Dust mites, mold, food and pet allergies don’t take a Christmas vacation", and the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt pointed out that teen car crash deaths rocket at this time of year.

Most alarming of all, though, is Dr. Thomas Esposito of the Loyola University Medical Center, who leads off with the high cost of a visit to the ER - much more, he cheerfully points out, than you're likely to have spent on gifts. Indeed, he helpfully itemises the costs, with long-term brain injury coming in at a not-such-a-bargain $702,096.59.

Dr Esposito sends out press releases as easily as most of us breathe, offering annual advice on how to cook a turkey safely too. Last year, his tips got him media coverage in everything from Medical Express to the Chicago Daily Herald and the Times of India.

He's really excelled himself this year, though.

"Just last weekend someone went to a party, things got out of hand and they pulled out a gun and started shooting," he writes. "I say don’t pack heat this winter. Bring a poinsettia, not a pistol to a party."

Happy holidays, everyone!