Drink more booze for your health!

If you like to unwind with a glass of wine, then this might be the news you’ve been waiting for. Because according to a leading scientist, drinking just over a bottle a day won’t harm your health.

Dr Kari Poikolainen, who used to work for the World Health Organisation as an alcohol expert, examined decades of research into its effects. Men are currently meant to have no more than four units a day but women are supposed to have three units – around the equivalent of a large glass of wine.

A bottle of wine has ten units. But Dr Poikolainen believes drinking only becomes harmful when people consume more than around 13 units a day.

He also claimed that people who exceed the recommended limit could live longer than teetotallers.

Dr Poikolainen said: ‘The weight of the evidence shows moderate drinking is better than abstaining and heavy drinking is worse than abstaining – however the moderate amounts can be higher than the guidelines say.’

Pretty much the standard finding. As with so many things there’s a curve, t5he interesting thing being the shape of it. And that standard finding is that boozing up to some 40, 50 units a week is healthier than pure abstinence, after that more unhealthy.

So, given this statement of the standard finding, what do we hear next?

But Julia Manning, from think-tank 2020Health, said: ‘This is an unhelpful contribution to the debate. It makes grand claims which we don’t see evidence for.’ She added: ‘Alcohol is a toxin, the risks outweigh the benefits.’

Fuck off you sour old trout.

21 thoughts on “Drink more booze for your health!”

  1. So Much for Subtlety

    The only Health warning I believe these days is the finding that men who have sex once a month or less (!) have about twice as many heart attacks as men who have sex twice a week or more.

    I await, with baited breath, for 2020Health to suggest the NHS should pay for Escorts.

  2. ‘ It makes grand claims which we don’t see evidence for.’
    We don’t like this evidence therefore we can’t see it. Activist-science in a nutshell.

  3. Bloke with a Boat

    We can be fairly certain that if Dr Kari Poikolainen had said that anything over 1 unit per day was dangerous Julia Manning and the rest of the health fascists would have been shouting it from the mast head of the Guardian and BBC without a care for evidence.

    I’ve related this anecdote before, but its worth repeating.

    A few years a go I was playing in a golf match when I muttered something about alcohol units being a scam and made up. It turned out that one of my opponents had been a researcher at GSK and knew the the liver specialists in London very well.

    Long story short, but when the liver specialists were asked by the Government for a safe daily limit it on wine they said two bottles. This was rejected by the Government and they were asked to try again. Eventually around 1/2 a bottle per day was accepted.

    My opponent was quick to point out that this was in the days when wine was around 10% ABV and not the current 13%.

    Do I believe him? Given we were in the middle of a golf match and he seemed to have no particular axe to grind given the rest of our conversation I think I do.

  4. Bloke with a Boat

    Freakonomics radio is interesting on this subject this week:

    Imagine a fantasy world that’s exactly as the world is today except that two things are missing: alcohol and marijuana. And then imagine that tomorrow, both of them are discovered. What happens now? How are each of them used – and, perhaps more importantly, regulated? How would we weigh the relative benefits and costs of alcohol versus marijuana?

  5. “But Dr Poikolainen believes drinking only becomes harmful when people consume more than around 13 units a day.”

    I’ll continue to experimentally confirm & refine the accuracy of that figure. Public duty & all that. In the spirit of the global warming crowd I’ll be trying to get it to at least a couple of decimal places of accuracy. So much research still to be done..

  6. The Mail article is too short to do justice to Dr Poikolainen’s argument. He was research director of the Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies, and I expect his views (argued in his recent book ‘Perfect drinking and its enemies’) are well-informed. In fact, when the health nannies first started getting their grip on alcohol the advice wasn’t too different from Dr Poikolainen’s findings – about 10 units a day was the level above which they said things start to go wrong. Goodness knows how they got from there to 21 units a week….

  7. Optician rubbishes alcohol expert on his findings about alcohol.

    Mind you, I suppose, in secret, she could be an alcohol expert like me.

    Qualified by experience, as they say.

  8. This idiot Manning stood for election as a Tory, which shows how far they have sunk.

    Her website claims 2020Health is ‘an independent Think Tank that seeks to ‘Make Health Personal’.

    Quite how it ‘makes health personal’ for her to interfere with how much Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche Grand Cru I tip down my neck isn’t absolutely clear.

  9. I drink more than the American guideline of 2 beers a day. Because of all the propaganda, I did some research to determine if I was in danger of developing sclerosis of the liver. What I found was that people who drink 10 drinks a day have a 30% chance of sclerosis. Since I drink half that at most, I decided the odds were that I was reasonably safe. I am not safe from haranguing from my doctor.

    “But Dr Poikolainen believes drinking only becomes harmful when people consume more than around 13 units a day.”

    I think he is wrong, but I believe he errors closer to the truth than American guidelines.

  10. It is not a toxin which is a poison produced by an organism, although alcohol is a poison.

    However what is toxic or poisonous is a matter of dosage. Water will poison a person if enough consumed, as will vitamins for example.

    Lethal dose varies with the poison and body weight of the consumer.

    Which brings us back to dose.

    It is the dosage of alcohol that makes it poisonous, the point of the newspaper article.

    Since the ‘recommended dosage’ was merely plucked out of the air and has no empirical scientific evidence to support it… seems to be a trait today from everything from saturated fat, through sugar all the way to Manmade global warming… a bottle a day is no more or less likely to be OK.

    The body does however know: when we start feeling peculiar, stop.

  11. I think we have a classic disconnect here between population medicine and individual medicine. You have lots of people. Some peoples’ livers will take almost any amount of abuse (which is why you find only ~20% of hardened alcoholics with liver trouble). Others will take almost none.

    Statistically, however, any increase in alcohol consumption, and more or less wherever it occurs (the hardened alcoholic graduating to his second bottle of scotch a day, or a particularly vulnerable person having a glass of wine a week) will increase liver stuff. So the guys doing the sums and writing the cheques to clear up the damage, are interested in the statistical stuff. Less so the personal stuff, where it would be cool to find out, before having done any damage, if you are the lilly-livered, or Irish-livered type.

    In other words, if everyone drunk 13 units a day you would find liver disease shoot to the top of the cause of death rankings but most people would still die of something else.

  12. Surreptitious Evil

    It is not a toxin which is a poison produced by an organism, although alcohol is a poison.

    Dunno about you, but hopefully all of my alcohol intake is produced by an organism. That organism being yeast.

  13. Since alcohol is produced naturally by yeast, surely that makes it a “natural” product and thus good?

    …says someone who currently has about 44L of beer fermenting in strategic locations around his house

  14. Vova
    April 19, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Think you did the wrong research mate. It’s cirrhosis of the liver….


    “It’s a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.” – Andrew Jackson

    Of course, you are correct. But I did have it correct when I did my research.

  15. Correlation/causation. It’s probably not so much the not drinking that is bad for your health, but that someone who doesn’t drink at all has other life style characteristics that lead to an early death – probably by being a nannying fussbucket and getting so annoyed by everyone else enjoying themselves that it strains their heart.

  16. @SMFS: “I await, with baited breath, for 2020Health to suggest the NHS should pay for Escorts.”

    For reasons of practicality and economy, the Ford Escort was the UK’s second favourite location for sexual intercourse by young people in the 1970s and 1980s. An MG Midget was optimal for pulling a bird*, but err, frankly, getting much further required a lot of athletics. I have already purchased a Mk1 Ford Escort (1969, silver metallic with sand blast effect after leaving it outdoors overnight) in anticipation of NHS bonk funding.

    * Yes, I have a data reference but not one that can be disclosed. A 1980s car survey of potential new US buyers revealed that young men were divided between an attractive sports car or a comfy sport van (an American concept which has thankfully not travelled across the Atlantic). The attribute “Pimps”, a user stereotype or the people likely to buy, was removed from another survey by General Motors because Cadillac scored almost 100%.

  17. “a comfy sport van (an American concept which has thankfully not traveled across the Atlantic).”
    Sorry to disillusion you there.
    And it has proved an outstanding recreational vehicle ;))

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