It is hard to find any real science in the latest recommended alcohol limits produced by the UK's Chief Medical Officers. Bringing the 'allowance' for men down to that of women simply smacks of the desire for sexual equality.
The obvious question is as to the accuracy of the research. To establish the mortality or disease rates of people according to the amount they drink (or drunk if they are dead) is not one of the easiest tasks. Research elsewhere suggests that when patients discus alcohol with their doctors, the majority understate the amount they drink and it was concluded that on average, a drinker would understate what what he/she had drunk by at least 50%. My mother used to claim that she rarely drunk alcohol, only on special occasions; she didn't count the glass of sherry she had every day with her evening meal; that was medicinal, to help her digestion.
Did these medical officers take this research into account? Did they assume all the alcohol claimed to have been drunk by individuals was correct? Probably they believed what they were told, because if they had doubled the amounts that people claimed to drink, it would probably have produced higher, not lower 'allowances'.
But my main complaint about the figures, and the cancers that they are claimed to produce, is how they managed to decide that the cancers were produced by alcohol and not one of the other numerous possible causes such as traffic pollution. We've recently had the scandal about emissions from diesel engines and the 'extra' risks to which we have been subjected due to the falsification of records. Others claim that red meat can be a cause; how long before we get our weekly meat allowance? And what about obesity, which was recently claimed to be one of the biggest threats to this country; where does that fit into the equation? Suppose we stopped drinking beer and had a pint of coca-cola instead, which would do the most damage?
Then they rubbish the suggestion, among other things, that a daily glass of red wine can be helpful against various ills. Lots of carefully documented research by various well respected doctors and institutions world wide on the beneficial effects of moderate alcohol consumption are simply swept away for no reason. The Harvard School of Public Health has produced a number of studies, this one in particular being of interest in that it weighs up the risks and benefits of alcohol.
Many people drink alcohol for stress related reasons; it might help them to relax after a hard day's work or a stressful journey. Suppose they gave up alcohol, would they in due course be turning up at the doctor's or hospital with a nervous breakdown? When I have problems sleeping, a tot of whisky before bed is an enormous help; my GP knows about this and has given me some pills. But I've failed to get a simple answer, whether the long term use of alcohol, or the long term use of the pills would do me the most harm? Remember that in spite of all the claims made about the safety of medicines, Aspirin was being sold around the world by 1899, and that even today, they are still finding both new uses and new problems with it. So how safe is something that has only been available for a much shorter period?
I believe these new limits will be totally ignored and indeed could make things worse. I don't consider myself a heavy drinker compared with most of my friends; I probably kept within the existing limits most of the time. The problem is that by setting them so low, many will go over the figures, and then adopt the attitude "In for a penny, in for a pound" and totally ignore them altogether.
I intend to continue as at present. I am aware that alcohol could shorten my life, but then so could numerous other thing that I do during a normal day. If I tried to have a life devoid of any avoidable risk, where even crossing the road entails some degree of risk, I would probably then die of boredom.
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