MEDIA
08/17/2010 02:04 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Christopher Hitchens: Despite Cancer, I'd Drink & Smoke Again

Christopher Hitchens is known as much for his hard-drinking, chain-smoking lifestyle as he is for his controversial writings. But when asked by Charlie Rose if he regrets having burned the candle so thoroughly at both ends -- given that he has now been diagnosed with esophageal cancer -- Hitchens was adamant: absolutely not.

"All the time, I've felt that life is a wager and that I probably was getting more out of leading a bohemian existence as a writer than I would have if I didn't," he said in an interview that aired Friday. "Writing is what's important to me, and anything that helps me do that -- or enhances and prolongs and deepens and sometimes intensifies argument and conversation -- is worth it to me. So I was knowingly taking a risk. I wouldn't recommend it to others"

"But you would do it again?" Rose asked.

"Yes, I think I would," Hitchens responded. "I've had to reflect on this, of course, a lot recently, and trying to imagine doing my life differently and not ending up mortally sick. But it's impossible for me to imagine having my life without going to those parties, without having those late nights...without that second bottle."

In an interview with Anderson Cooper earlier this month, Hitchens said "to anyone watching, if you can hold it down on the smokes and the cocktails you may be well advised to do so."

Hitchens said that his affinity for liquor and cigarettes had surprised him, because his father was an alcoholic and his mother a heavy smoker -- two things he hated as a child.

"I thought I would never start," he said. "And my children do this to me...they really said they wished that I wouldn't do it."

In the wide-ranging, hour-long conversation, Hitchens also discussed why he moved to America and the influence of his parents, as well as his belief that one shouldn't have role models. And, of course, he talked about Iraq, the war that split him from many of his left-wing friends and drew him close to the neoconservative movement. Hitchens said he doesn't regret supporting the Iraq war either.

Watch: Hitchens on whether he has regrets (h/t Politico): Hitchens talks about his father and his decision to come to the U.S.: