Sunday, 14 September 2014

Drinking is good for you

Here’s a must-read article by US addiction export Stanton Peele entitled The Truth We Won’t Admit: Drinking Is Healthy, making the point – which the health lobby do their best to sweep under the carpet – that there’s overwhelming evidence that moderate drinking (even well above official guidelines) produces better health outcomes than abstention.

The U.S. public health establishment buries overwhelming evidence that abstinence is a cause of heart disease and early death. People deserve to know that alcohol gives most of us a higher life expectancy—even if consumed above recommended limits...

In fact, the evidence that abstinence from alcohol is a cause of heart disease and early death is irrefutable—yet this is almost unmentionable in the United States. Even as health bodies like the CDC and Dietary Guidelines for Americans (prepared by Health and Human Services) now recognize the decisive benefits from moderate drinking, each such announcement is met by an onslaught of opposition and criticism, and is always at risk of being reversed.

Noting that even drinking at non-pathological levels above recommended moderate limits gives you a better chance of a longer life than abstaining draws louder protests still. Yet that’s exactly what the evidence tells us.

Driven by the cultural residue of Temperance, most Americans still view drinking as unhealthy; many call alcohol toxic. Yet, despite drinking far less than many European nations, Americans have significantly worse health outcomes than heavier-drinking countries. (For example, despite being heavily out-drunk by the English, we have almost exactly twice their levels of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.)

Well, I’ll certainly drink to that conclusion!


  1. They know alcohol is a drug, but they insist on treating it as though it's a poison, the slightest quantity of which is detrimental, hence their use of the word 'toxic'. Two tablets of aspirin or paracetamol may relieve a headache, but 12 of either could have serious health consequences. If the anti-alcohol brigade's thinking about alcohol was applied to these everyday pharmaceutical products, they'd probably both be banned.

    Only a fool would deny that repeatedly drinking massively to excess can be harmful, although harm is not guaranteed to happen in every case, but much of the hostility to drinking derives from the latent Puritanism that has dominated US society, and ours to a lesser extent, for centuries that at its extreme asserts that all pleasures are evil and decadent. It seems slightly odd nowadays that this attitude used to embrace activities such as music, dancing and theatre-going. Even celebrating Christmas was illegal at one time.

    The moralists have hijacked the health debate about alcohol, and their agenda has less to do with our physical well-being and more to do with moralistic disapproval of people enjoying themselves. To me, the test of this is when they open any discussion with ritual phrases asserting that they don’t want to spoil the pleasure people get from drinking alcohol – followed immediately by an actual or implied ‘but’.

  2. Spot on, Nev, it's become much more about morality and Puritanical disapproval than science.

  3. It is that same attitude that drives the "War on Drugs": a war which causes far more harm than the drugs ever will.

  4. A mutually reinforced delusion among abject and lost alcoholics with meanness of spirit to beckon the unwary to join their decay. As their festering dying booze raddled bodies near their end they may join the abstentious in the vain hope for a few more minutes and drag down the statistics of the virtuous and create these distorted fables.

  5. TT Oh dear,fine words ,alas ,so distant from laughter and joy which follows the drinker in so stark a contrast with the long lived greyness and morbid self
    importance of wearisome puritans.
    In the God given freedom of man
    the fields in many lands cherish the bones of our glorious forebears,whose tortured frames bear witness to their sacrifice for our choice,our way of life.
    The way of life now threatened by the narrow ambition of petty,narrow busy bodies who devote their lives to spewing misery on others. They cling to the banners of health concern to justify their malignent interference

    Who pays the Ferryman

  6. @Temperance Tim, I've had enough. Fuck off now.

  7. To be fair, Timbo has a point, Anon. Booze fun? yeh. Booze healthy? Then why do I feel like shite after a skin full?

  8. The idea, Cookie, is to follow my example and stop before you've had a skinful.

  9. but that's no fun, Mudge.

    that's middle aged and boring.

  10. Robin Williams would still be alive if it were not for the 'addiction industry'. Relevance, well it just seems that you can take contrary viewpoints. When Whitney Houston died I recall reading on a 'magic potions and homeopathy' web site that "BIG PHARMA" had killed Whitney. I am sure that epidemiologists (or medical statisticians) can extrapolate data to make many things less harmful. Lies, damn lies and statistics.

  11. What Temperance Tim is alluding to is statistics being skewed by former heavy drinkers in the non drinker category, but most of the studies on this have controlled for that by eliminating former heavy drinkers from any other category (not just the abstainer category). You don't want former heavy drinkers skewing they moderate drinker category either.

    Another worry is sick quitters. People with an unrelated medical condition who decided at an early age not to drink. They might die younger from the existing condition and skew the results towards early mortality. Eliminating these people from studies entirely (whether they drink or not) controls for the possible skew in the data.

    After controlling for these factors the highest life expectancy is to be found in the moderate consumption category. It's a bell curve with abstainers at about the same height on the opposite side of the hill to people who drink 8-9 units a day.

  12. When reading those charts it is worth knowing - which you probably do - than and American "drink" is equivalent to 1.8 times a UK "unit". eg'; a drink is a 1.5oz (45mL) shot of spirits whereas a unit is a 25mL.

  13. Add a year to your life of not feeling bad.

    Have a refreshing and invigorating pot of tea instead.

  14. At TT - decaffeinated tea, of course.

  15. Temperance Tim, Temperance Tim
    Temperance Tim does not like sin.

    Early in the morning
    just as day is dawning

    Tim has a cup of tea and disapproves of Mudgies hair of the dog.

  16. Sean has in IMO summarised the current research accurately. The Anti Alcohol Industry - yes it is now an industry, invariably attempts to disparage studies showing exactly what Sean reports, by claiming that former heavy drinkers and sick quitters distort the data. This edition of More or Less", broadcast in 2009 and still available, discusses this very issue,
    If I recall correctly, the author of the study in question refused to come on the programme.


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