He admits he feared he would never live to turn 30 due to an out-of-control lifestyle.
But on the verge of turning 60, bestselling author Irvine Welsh has agreed to spearhead a new health campaign.
The Trainspotting creator has stripped off for a new promotional drive to persuade men in their fifties to be checked for possible prostate cancer.
The Edinburgh-born novelist, who has spoken candidly about his drug addiction in his twenties, admits he is “shocked” to still be alive.
Welsh, who has agreed to spearhead a fundraising campaign for Prostate Cancer UK, concedes he is from a generation that would avoid going to the doctor – especially if it involved anything potentially embarrassing.
Now he is encouraging men of his age to openly discuss with their friends if they are displaying any symptoms, such as having difficulty passing urine or having to rush to the toilet in the night.
Welsh, who has posed wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shots commissioned by beer brand McEwan’s to raise funds for the charity, said: “This is about getting the message across that prostate cancer is very common in men, but is also treatable if it is caught early enough.
“If you have any worries at all it’s a simple blood test. We should be working towards a national prostate cancer screening programme in Scotland. It would help reduce the drain of resources of the NHS with people who have fully-fledged cancers.
“There are a lot of things that mitigate getting checked out properly. People tend to be very private and Calvinistic about their body parts.
“The prostate gland is either shrouded in mystery or tied up with sexuality and incontinence – two things you don’t want to probe too deeply. Issues around the prostate tend to hit you when you’re in your fifties – when you can no longer pretend you are young.
“People like myself tend to deride the modern generation as lightweights – who don’t take enough drugs, they don’t drink enough, don’t have enough misadventures and are too politically correct. I think people are looking after themselves a bit more now.
“I’ve only been aware of my own mortality since I was 28. Turning 30 was the worst birthday ever. I think I was at home crying my eyes out.
“Just being here is a shock. I never thought I’d see 30. Everything since has been a bonus. I had a big rock ‘n’ roll thing going on and I thought it was my destiny to die at the age of 28.
“My lifestyle’s massively changed. I’ve always been into boxing, but I now do circuit training and recently took up pilates.”