Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Here we go again

Not surprisingly, we read in the Daily Mail:

One in three middle-aged men are increasing their chances of developing cancer and liver disease through 'risky drinking.'

A study found 31 per cent of men aged over 45 regularly drank the equivalent of more than two pints of beer five times a week.

Whilst over the safe limits it is not classed as binge drinking and researchers said drinkers may not realise it could affect their health.
There’s no point in attempting to refute this, but the idea that middle-aged men drinking three pints five times a week (which I suspect includes many readers of this blog) is storing up some kind of health timebomb really does strain credulity to breaking point.

All of this rests on a complete misinterpretation of the concept of risk. As I’ve often said before, once you’re over the top of the bell curve of alcohol-related health impacts, you don’t suddenly fall off a cliff, but for quite a distance just experience a gentle downward slope. You have to go a long way before you get down to the same level as teetotallers, and in any case a 50% increase in a minimal risk is still a minimal risk.

You increasingly get the feeling that, rather than addressing genuine health problems, the medical profession are doing their best to spread anxiety, guilt and self-loathing amongst the broad spread of those who engage in statistically “normal” behaviour, on food as much as alcohol. As the great Dr Heinz Kiosk might have said, “we are all alcoholics now”.


  1. Journalists are of course noted for their sober habits and are all in bed with a cup of Horlicks by 10.30 p.m.

  2. ... and according to that other august publication, The Daily Mirror, 20 Britons a year die falling out of bed every year.

    Does that mean we should all sleep on the floor?

    How come these reports never provide comparables, such as what other factors might influence ones propensity to cancer etc from other causes.

    That's the trouble with environmental factors, it is more than likely a combination of factors (including ones genetic makeup and family history) that determine the risk of cancer in an individual.

    More scare mongering from the anti-alcohol brigade!


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