OK, so we all now know that the official UK Guidelines are a pack of lies. But if the recommended weekly drinking limits of 21 units of alcohol for men and 14 for women are totally bogus, then the question must be what is the truth?
Well, a whole host of epidemiological studies have filled the intervening years with real evidence, all totally ignored by the government and the anti-drinking cliques.
Most significant, perhaps, was a study carried out by the World Health Organisation in 2000.
The WHO’s International Guide for Monitoring Alcohol Consumption and Related Harm set out drinking ranges that qualified people as being at low, medium or high-risk of chronic alcohol-related harm.
For men, less than 35 weekly units was low-risk, 36-52.5 was medium-risk and above 53 was high-risk. For women were low-risk below 17.5 units, medium between 18 and 35 and high above 36.
Seven years earlier, in 1993, there was the British doctors study. This study of 12,000 middle-aged, male doctors led by Sir Richard Doll and a team at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, found that the lowest mortality rates – lower even than teetotallers – were among those drinking between 20 and 30 units of alcohol each week.The level of drinking that produced the same risk of death as that faced by a teetotaller was 63 units a week, or roughly a bottle of wine a day!
By 1994, five studies had been published which showed that moderate amounts of alcohol gave some degree of protection against heart disease. A year later, scientists at the Institute for Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen, who studied 13,000 men and women over 12 years, found that drinking more than half a bottle of wine a day – 50 units a week – cut the risk of premature death by half.
So what is the truth? Clarity is not aided by the fact that different countries use different quantities of alcohol to define a unit.
In Britain one unit of alcohol is 8 grams of pure ethanol. In Australia and Spain it is 10 grams, in Italy 12, in America 14, and in Japan 19.75. Translate the respective countries’ levels into British units and you find that, for men, Britain’s supposed safe weekly limit of 21 is more than Poland (12.5), but less than Canada (23.75), America (24.5), South Africa and Denmark (31.5) and Australia (35).
Some countries say that women should drink less than men, but others, including Canada, the Netherlands and Spain, make no distinction.
Christopher Record, a liver-disease specialist at Newcastle University, suggested that “it doesn’t really matter what the limits are”. “What we do know is, the more you drink, the greater the risk. The trouble is that we all have different genes.Some people can drink considerably more than [the limits] and they won’t get into any trouble.”
I’ll drink to that!