The latest subject of a health warning is Ibuprofen but by listening to all the advice, we'll only make ourselves ill.

SO now it's painkillers that are bad for you. Well, for this week, at least. Warning: Taking notice of health warnings can serious damage your health. Not to mention your common sense.

Research in California seems to show that taking Ibuprofen every day can slightly increase your chances of getting breast cancer. Ho hum. This, naturally, is the virtual opposite of another study that showed that taking painkillers can actually reduce the chances of getting breast cancer. Confused? Of course. But don't sling your painkillers. Next week they'll probably be good again.

Everything takes its turn. Red wine, I think - I hope - is currently good for you. Coffee was thought to be bad for you, but then someone else said no, it's good for you.

Carbohydrates were good for centuries. Then they were bad. Then they were absolutely verboten. But now they're creeping back in again. Milk, eggs, vitamin pills have all been hailed as wonder foods and also those to be avoided at all costs.

Too much sleep, too little sleep. Too much exercise, too little exercise. Too much sun, not enough sun. Bread, potatoes, beer and bananas. All float into and out of the good and bad lists.

Anyway, I took a bit of notice of the Ibuprofen warning. As a rheumaticky wreck since childhood, I have taken industrial strength doses of it every day for at least 20 years.

Shall I stop? No.

Who knows what would happen if I didn't take them? I might be in so much pain that I lost my concentration and crashed the car. Or I might limp so slowly across a road that I got mown down. Or I might get so ratty with pain that I killed husband, son or passing stranger and spent the rest of my days in the slammer.

Trying to minimise risks is sensible. Trying to avoid them at all costs is impossible and just plain daft.

Life can damage your health. Breathing is bad for you. Take the painkillers and deal with it.

AUSTRALIAN Dale Chalk is expecting quads. Nothing too unusual about that - except that she already has quads. And a two-year-old.

So when the new babies arrive she and husband Darren will have eight babies under two, plus a toddler.

There is much concern about feeding and changing them all, about bottles and nappies and the sleepless nights. But that's the easy bit.

Just wait till they have nine stroppy adolescents stamping through the house, slamming doors, fighting over the bathroom and pleading for driving lessons. The Chalks deserve our congratulations - and a lot of luck.

A sorry statement

of affairs

IT seems a little unfair that so many straight A students aren't getting onto the university courses they want. But if there are more students than places, then you don't need A-level maths to see the problem. And grades are only part of it.

Every university applicant has to write a personal statement outlining their burning ambition for that course and telling admissions staff about themselves. So many of these statements are apparently either so boring, inadequate, pompous, or written almost to a template drawn up by the school that you wonder why admissions staff aren't driven to terminal boredom. And every year there are more and more to wade through.

Universities want the brightest and best. Thirty years ago they had time to interview all the promising candidates. Now they're doing well if they get through all the application forms.

Time for a drastic re-think.

Mind the gap

PS on gap years. Having been refused admittance to Greece by the Colonels, I spent my gap year in the exotic surroundings of Birmingham, because that's where my then boyfriend was studying.

I worked in a hotel in the Hagley Road, started at 5.30am, made 35 beds and cleaned 35 baths and loos before breakfast. All, I think, for £5 a week and a room in a garret with an extortionate meter for the electricity.

Frankly, I think the youngsters who go back packing in Thailand have much the better idea.