Most parents think of grandparents as a great, if reluctant, source of free babysitting – but they’re actually a deadly silver-haired menace which must be stopped.
Or at least that’s what a new report suggests.
Grandparents who stuff children with sweet treats and big helpings of chips (in between popping out for crafty fags) could actually be giving the children cancer, the report warns.
The spoilsport claims come from a review of research on the influence grandparents have on lifestyle factors which can sow the seeds of cancer later in life.
Lead author Dr Stephanie Chambers, the University of Glasgow’s Public Health Sciences Unit, said: ‘While the results of this review are clear that behaviour such as exposure to smoking and regularly treating children increases cancer risks as children grow into adulthood, it is also clear from the evidence that these risks are unintentional.
‘Currently grandparents are not the focus of public health messaging targeted at parents and in light of the evidence from this study, perhaps this is something that needs to change given the prominent role grandparents play in the lives of children.”
The Glasgow team analysed data from 56 studies from 18 countries that included information about the influence of grandparents on their grandchildren.
Overall, grandparents were found to have an adverse effect – despite meaning well. In many cases, such as rewarding good behaviour with sweets, they were putting the health of their grandchildren at risk with kindness.
Smoking, poor diet, excess weight and lack of physical activity were all known to increase the risk of cancer, said the researchers.