Sunday, 2 August 2009

Puritanism By Press Release

The anti-alcohol miserablists are bleating again and, as is usual, basing their conclusions on the tried-and-tested "Listen to us, we're doctors doncha know" method without bothering with any actual new scientific evidence whatsoever.

Then they issue a press release.

And Nanny Beeb faithfully publishes it.

Daily limits on alcohol consumption are meaningless and potentially harmful, experts have warned.

The government says men should drink no more than three to four units per day and women no more than two to three.

Liver specialist Dr Nick Sheron, of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, says these limits were devised by civil servants with "no good evidence" for doing so.

He says the advice runs the risk of people taking it to mean that it is safe to drink alcohol every day.

Let's first try not to laugh too much at Sheron's ironic accusation that tweaking the limits was based on 'no good evidence', considering the fact that the original limits, set in 1987, may as well have been drawn from a Camelot lottery machine.

The disclosure that the 1987 recommendation was prompted by “a feeling that you had to say something” came from Richard Smith, a member of the Royal College of Physicians working party that produced it.

He told The Times that the committee’s epidemiologist had confessed that “it’s impossible to say what’s safe and what isn’t” because “we don’t really have any data whatsoever”.

“Those limits were really plucked out of the air. They were not based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee,” he said.

So technically, Sheron is correct that there is 'no good evidence' for the daily limits ... simply because there is no good evidence for the limits as they were originally set, either. The decision to change how these arbitrary figures are presented to the public was taken in 1995[pdf] and didn't attempt to test the validity of the figures, merely ...

to carry out a review of the Government’s sensible drinking message in the light of the latest evidence which indicated that drinking alcohol might give protection from Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

The inference being that there may even have been a case for raising the limits. Faced with the inevitable shrieking which would have followed from the healthist lobby, the 1995 committee weren't to be so brave, but they did stress that the guidelines should not be taken as a rigid, uncompromising set of rules.

We wish to move away from a culture of advice on consumption levels which has been interpreted by some as categorising all those who drink above the currently recommended levels as heavy or problem drinkers when, clearly, the vast majority of them are not.

We see value in setting benchmarks to enable people to monitor their own drinking levels. However, advice to the general population is just that. By definition it is not applicable to all individuals.

What particularly irritates Sheron and his temperance movement chums, is the possibility that some people may be indulging in a little bit of pleasure every day. And boy does that make them tetchy.

Dr Sheron said that by setting a daily limit, people might take this to mean they could drink every day.

Dr Rachel Seabrook, research manager at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, agrees.

"... we are quite concerned about the use of 'daily' in the message. It implies that you can drink on every day. There should be an explicit warning against this."

Of course, there is no new study or reasoning behind these assertions, it is merely their opinion. The 1995 study disagrees entirely, in fact it was quite clear on the matter.

Drink Free Days

Such breaks in consumption are not required on health grounds for people drinking at low risk levels of daily consumption.

Guidance on Sensible Drinking

Regular consumption of between 3 and 4 units a day by men of all ages will not accrue significant health risk.

Regular consumption of between 2 and 3 units a day by women of all ages will not accrue any significant health risk.

What is especially odd about today's finger-wagging from Alcohol Health Alliance UK is that they are an alliance of 24 fake charities, healthist quangoes and public bodies ... many of whom were part of the consultation process in 1995. Most significantly, Rachel Seabrook's Institute of Alcohol Studies, and the Royal College of Physicians, who were the people behind setting up - you guessed it - the Alcohol Health Alliance UK.

And who is the Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK? Why, it's a proper cunt who you may well have read about recently.

The Alliance was launched on 13 November in conjunction with the publication of a BBC survey on health services in the UK. It is chaired by Prof Ian Gilmore, President of the RCP.

He's fast becoming a shoe-in for the 'Tedious bell end of the year' award, isn't he?


Jeff Wood said...

It's "shoo-in", but you are quite right about this tedious bell end.

I am off to pour myself another drink.

And have a smoke.

Anonymous said...

Sooner the shoulder shrugging
heroic drinkers get an hammering
the better. Their dismal, defeatist,
apatheic challenge to the smoking
ban will be brought to their notice when they sqwauke with dried
lips about the £5 pint.
Bring it on Sir Liam.


helend498 said...

They can do a runner.

I love my fish and veg, along with my wine and smokes - just like the Mediterranean diet and lifestyles.

Don't they live the longest?

I'll stick with what I know suits me and continue to enjoy my life.

Witterings from Witney said...


There I was, in the middle of my 5th scotch of the night, and you go and publish this latest outpouring of rubbish by 'those that know'!

Why can't they just **** off!

Anonymous said...

Over 20 years ago, when my hubby worked as a drayman and was given a monthly allowance "alcohol" the advice books he brought home with them, were the most useful ones I have come across. Like, "if you need a drink first thing in the morning" you have a problem, lol.
I do drink almost every day, but rarely during the day (evenings) so I will carry-on with the old advice.

The "new temperance movement" can get stuffed, they talk with fork tongue, load of vipers they are.
mandyv for smokers and non-smokers alike, fighting for choice and TRUTH

The witch from Essex said...

When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.
--Henny Youngman

I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen this?


vincent1 said...

Time to learn how to make moonshine methinks lol

Anonymous said...

What's really really interesting about this is the traverse from "will not accrue any significant health risk" (1995) to 'maximum safe level' almost immediately, rather then the attempt to lower the latter.

X "will not accrue any significant health risk" doesn't give us a clue what might do - and it doesn't provide a rule that can be used for bullying the public. Note, too, that word "accrue" - that implies the original investigation was suggesting no long term ill-effects could be detected from long-term consumption at this level - not even as an occasional peak.