On the level of dangerous drinking

The lifetime risk of breast cancer for a woman drinking one bottle of wine each week rises by 10%, but breast cancer is a lot more common than liver disease, and one in 100 women drinking at this level will develop breast cancer as a result.

This is the level of drinking that the prodnoses are talking about. A bottle of wine a week.

The Home Office proposed a measured alcohol strategy, centred on a minimum unit price, and personally supported by David Cameron, and no one seems to understand why it was dropped

Because it’s illegal under EU law you dimwit. It’s also damn stupid. Why do you want to fatten the profit margins of the suppliers? If you want to make booze more expensive then raise the tax levels!

27 comments on “On the level of dangerous drinking

  1. At that level, other factors would almost certainly create so much noise as to make this finding meaningless. Women with breast cancer might be slightly more likely to drink slightly more. But they are also likely to have fewer children or to be White (or perhaps not White) or to be middle class or to live near power lines (not that there is anything wrong with that) or any one of a million other risk factors it is impossible to adjust for.

    They should all be fired.

  2. Our task for today is to conceive of an experiment that would produce the data supporting this claim.

    Or would that be a waste of time?

  3. Oh, dear, should have read the Gruaniad before I commented, but I actually prefer the sub-headline “100,000 years of working life in England and Wales are lost because of alcohol”.

    And some people laugh at David Icke. He must think life’s just not fair.

  4. When ever you see percentages banded about without any real figures you have to be suspicious. 10% of very little is still a very small number. You also need to be cautious when you see real figures banded about with no percentages. A ten million increase sounds big but in the context is probably only 1%. Context is everything.

  5. “Our task for today is to conceive of an experiment that would produce the data supporting this claim.”

    Done it.

    Do we or do we not have abnormal levels of breast cancer amongst the women of latin europe?

    if not, it’s bollocks.

    (And that’s with no’s of subjects in trial in tens of millions, trial period in decades. None of your studies of 1012 over 3 years crap)

  6. Comment for the Graun:

    “The lifetime risk of breast cancer for a woman drinking one bottle of wine each week rises by 10%, but breast cancer is a lot more common than liver disease, and one in 100 women drinking at this level will develop breast cancer as a result.”

    So what you’re saying is that 200 people enjoy a lifetime’s drinking reasonably priced wine at the risk of one dying.
    Seems fair. Nations have gone to war for less than that.

    Should be fun.

  7. They have invented “stealth alcohol diseases” as a new scare tactic on the lines of “passive smoking” as a way to pretend alcohol does lots of hidden damage that only the Grauniad self-appointed healthy-living czars can see and all the rest of us – poor peasants – have to believe in on their say-so.

  8. Yes, I presume the streets of France are littered with the bodies of women cut down by this plague. Oh, maybe not.

    The Guardian is a strange newspaper – it is an article of faith amongst its readers that the French way of life, diet, etc is vastly superior to ours, yet they also swallow this crap.

    It isn ‘t just the Guardian though. Today’s Times headline:

    “crisis over modern plague”

    The plague being…dementia.

  9. At that level, other factors would almost certainly create so much noise as to make this finding meaningless.

    Unless it’s talking about something you agree with, right?

  10. Rob.

    “The plague being…dementia.”

    This is one case where the headline is accurate. Modern medicine can keep our old knackered bodies going for decades past the point historically we’d have corked it – we haven’t made anywhere near the same level of progress on maintaining the mind.

    As someone who watched his own mum die after twenty years of dementia, it’s an outcome that haunts me…

  11. “100,000 years of working life in England and Wales are lost because of alcohol”.

    What’s that? A day or two lost each working year due to hangovers?

    Some people on CiF have made thousands of comments, presumably many of them during working hours. Ban CiF!

  12. 100,000 days lost to alcohol. I am assuming this figure is massively inflated as it comes from “Public Health”, but even so woo fucking hoo.

    According to the ONS, 1,389,700 days were lost in 2011 to strike action or lockouts. I reckon the Daily Prodnose won’t be weeping and wailing over that.

  13. A major risk factor for breast cancer is shortness. So women can reduce their risk by wearing high heels.

    There you are: I’ve just earned a doctorate of medicine.

  14. @BiS

    Do we or do we not have abnormal levels of breast cancer amongst the women of latin europe?

    There’s a far better trial going on with both sexes. All those Muslims who never touch alcohol must be the best experiment anyone could devise for the researching the effects of alcohol.

  15. @SimonFa

    As one who has lived in a Middle Eastern Muslim country, I can assure you that Muslims are not all as fastidious as they might like to appear.

    Have a look in the drink off the causeway between Bahrain and Saudi – on a good saturday, there could be a million quid’s worth of sports cars on the sea bed.

  16. Utter nonsense. My mother and her mother died of breast cancer. My maternal aunt and my niece also had it. All non smokers and apart form my niece, never consumed alcohol. Blaming women for their own illnesses is despicable and downright lazy medical malpractice.

  17. @Intersted

    I was brought up n the West Riding and have seen plenty of Muslims propping up bars as well. But that was in the 60s and 70s before Islam got radical.

    My mate who was a BA Captain reckoned the cabin staff hated the Riyadh flight back, so much alcohol consumed as soon as they were out of Saudi air space that nothing else got done and they were knackered when they got back.

    The point still holds that on aggregate I would expect fewer women drinking excess amounts, especially amongst he poorer classes.

  18. Any study citing an RR of 0.1 (and at what confidence interval, pray?) has about as much scientific worth as The Beano.

  19. So not 9%, not 11% but precisely 10%.

    Lifetime risk of breast cancer… all causes is 1 in 8 assuming everyone lives to be over 70.

    But:

    Age 20 to 29 it is 1 in 2 000
    Age 30 to 39 it is 1 in 229
    Age 40 to 49 it is 1 in 68

    So the biggest risk is ageing so never mind stop drinking stop ageing.

    The biggest at risk group is women with family history of breast Ca.

    Isolating a single incidental factor such as alcohol consumption from a number of confounding factors and assigning it a number is meaningless.

    Since those other factors are far more significant, the increase in risk from booze is so small it isn’t measurable.

  20. Re comments about Muslims – Mormons (no alcohol) and Seventh Day Adventists (no meat either) actually do get used in various American health studies in this way.

  21. Matthew L – “Unless it’s talking about something you agree with, right?”

    Naturally.

    SimonFa – “There’s a far better trial going on with both sexes. All those Muslims who never touch alcohol must be the best experiment anyone could devise for the researching the effects of alcohol.”

    As someone has said, people do use Mormon and Seventh Day Adventists for this purpose in the US. The problem is that they tend to live down wind of the American bomb tests.

    From which we *could* conclude that nuclear fallout is good for you.

    (Which actually I am inclined to do, but for other reasons. The point being there are so many other possibly causal factors, it is stupid to make claims at this level of confidence)

  22. Our task for today is to conceive of an experiment that would produce the data supporting this claim.

    Here you are.

    At that level, other factors would almost certainly create so much noise as to make this finding meaningless.

    “Analyses are adjusted for age, region of residence, socioeconomic status, body mass index, smoking, physical activity, use of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy.”

    When ever you see percentages banded about without any real figures you have to be suspicious. 10% of very little is still a very small number.

    “We estimated that the excess cancer incidence up to age 75 for women in developed countries for every additional 10 g of alcohol (i.e. for every additional drink) regularly consumed per day was typically of the order of 11 per 1000 for breast cancer; ”

    So not 9%, not 11% but precisely 10%

    10% is a round number. The actual number in the paper I linked to is 12%, with a confidence interval of 9% to 14%.

    Since those other factors are far more significant, the increase in risk from booze is so small it isn’t measurable.

    Yes, other factors are more significant. But the increased risk from booze is measurable. And because breast cancer is a common disease, the risk corresponds to a lot of extra women with breast cancer.

    This is the level of drinking that the prodnoses are talking about. A bottle of wine a week.

    The result is quoted like that because it’s a convenient round number for alcohol consumption, not far below median consumption. But no one sensible is suggesting that a bottle a week is a major problem – it gives similar life expectancy to not drinking alcohol at all (there’s a trade-off between reducing cardiovascular disease and increasing some cancers). The concern is that two bottles a week is likely to carry twice the risk, three bottles three times the risk…

    Nevertheless, minimum alcohol pricing is daft.

  23. @ PaulB
    Since I do not practice medicine in any country your link is useless.
    Your other points are generally OK (being me, I should pick holes in everything, but …)

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