Still panto season isn’t it?

Oh Yes It Is!

Tough drinking guidelines not scaremongering, says chief medical officer

The only way they’re not scaremongering is because they’re flat out lies.

58 thoughts on “Still panto season isn’t it?”

  1. But if they drink up to the old guidelines an extra 20 men per 1,000 will get bowel cancer. That’s not scaremongering, that’s fact and it’s hard science.”

    Hard science? What complete and utter bollocks, that level of risk factor is completely meaningless in epidemiology terms. Richard Doll must be spinning in his grave.

  2. The day that the NHS is generally regarded as a smoothly functioning machine delivering effective value for money health care to all, then I might be disposed to listen to these ecomenia.

    In the meanwhile I would politely suggest that perhaps they have more important things to do than lecture people about how to live their lives.

    Twats.

  3. Why live like some medieval penitent just on the chance (the chance, not certainty) of living until you are 86 instead of 79?

  4. IanB: What was your opinion of the vid I left on the LA site.? It dealt with the early 20th century conflict between petrol and alcohol for use as fuel for cars. And how the Temperance mob were brought in to inveigh against alcohol. And thus have had an even bigger effect on the modern world than anybody thinks.

  5. In case anyone doesn’t happen to know: “risk factor” doesn’t mean cause. It means only positive correlate. Hence the delightful old joke that wearing a bra is a risk factor for breast cancer.

  6. “that’s fact and it’s hard science.”

    Yeah, hard science like economics, gender studies and studying tax under Prof Murphy – that sort of hard science?

    It’s hard-on science to the epsilon semi-morons like this bint who now infest our public services. Heard her on Radio 4 this morning and she was barely articulate and seemed outright thick.

  7. Dear Mr Worstall

    Our beloved rulers just love to be tough on us – think they call it ‘tough love’.

    Did not our beloved former ruler in chief, St Tony declare he would be ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’? Since the biggest cause of crime is government, and he was it, he ought to have been able to do something about it. Maybe he meant ‘grime’.

    I’m sure it’s comforting thought that our beloved rulers will be even tougher a week next Tuesday. It seems to be all they can think of.

    DP

  8. “Rob

    Why live like some medieval penitent just on the chance (the chance, not certainty) of living until you are 86 instead of 79?”

    Ask me that again when I’m 79

  9. So, those of us with classical liberal leanings and a libertarian streak; who do we vote for next time?
    For me this is the last straw on voting for the increasingly authoritarian Tories; UKIP have blown their chance (sorry Tim), and the Lib Dems are now led by a soft-left social democrat.
    If only there was a party who thought that adults should occasionally be allowed to make their own decisions. I’d vote for them.

  10. There is a perception that people dislike the “Nanny State”. This is correct in the sense that they don’t like the State telling them what they can and cannot do. However, a great number of people like the State telling other people what they can and cannot do, which is why political parties today range from mere annoying fuss buckets to full on authoritarians. There are simply lots of votes in it.

  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21307158

    The RRs were 1.21 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.13-1.28] for moderate and 1.52 (95% CI 1.27-1.81) for heavy (≥4 drinks/day) alcohol drinking. The RR for moderate drinkers, compared with non-/occasional drinkers, was stronger for men (RR = 1.24, 95% CI 1.13-1.37) than for women (RR = 1.08, 95% CI 1.03-1.13; P(heterogeneity) = 0.02). For heavy drinkers, the association was stronger in Asian studies (RR = 1.81, 95% CI 1.33-2.46; P(heterogeneity) = 0.04). The dose-risk analysis estimated RRs of 1.07 (95% CI 1.04-1.10), 1.38 (95% CI 1.28-1.50), and 1.82 (95% CI 1.41-2.35) for 10, 50, and 100 g/day of alcohol, respectively.

  12. and the Lib Dems are now led by a soft-left social democrat.

    And that’s pretty much been the case since before I started voting. The only reasons last parliament’s biggest never-was didn’t look as lefty as he was was that he had Cameron to one side of him and Cable to the other.

  13. Bloke in Costa Rica

    ken: 100g a day of alcohol? That’s a third of a bottle of whisky, which seems like a lot. But it’s also the alcohol in 4.1 pints of 4.3% ABV beer. That is not ‘heavy drinking’. Heavy drinking is 250g alcohol a day or more.

  14. “Rob

    Why live like some medieval penitent just on the chance (the chance, not certainty) of living until you are 86 instead of 79?”

    That’s not living.. it’s merely existing…

    It’s Friday. All hail Bacon and Beer!

  15. You guys are weird. The fact is that drinking alcohol carries a measurably increased dose-dependent risk of cancer in the parts of the body exposed to the stuff. That’s much the expected result of chronic exposure of tissues to low doses of a toxic chemical.

    The risk is quite small. Most drinkers won’t get cancer as a result of it. Those who do won’t know that drinking was the cause. But nevertheless, significant numbers of people die prematurely and horribly as a result of drinking alcohol. Doctors are more aware of this than most, because they tend to the afflicted. So they’re moved to warn us of the dangers.

    It’s not unreasonable to decide to accept the risk, because you enjoy alcoholic drinks and won’t live for ever in any case. I do. But it’s daft to blame the messenger for reporting the facts.

  16. SJW the messenger isn’t just reporting the facts. They are twisting the statistics to suit their own hectoring and to justify the over-inflated taxpayer funded salaries they leech off the state.

    If they just reported the facts and left us alone to do with them as we will, then fine. But they don’t. They use them to lobby the government into “doing something”, i.e., justification for yet more tax increases.

  17. SJW, Chris Snowden examines the ‘facts’ that the CMO related to us in this post

    Here’s part of his conclusion:

    Casting out decades of research in favour of a single claim from a single study is a shocking abuse of her authority. People have a right to receive honest and accurate information from the government. I would call for her to be sacked but she’d only be replaced by somebody cut from the same corrupt cloth.

  18. KB: yes, he’s got a point – David Spiegelhalter has written something cogent.

    Nevertheless, the cancer risk is real. And the cardiovascular protective effect is very likely to be less for people with low cardiovascular risk in the first place, so if you’re in that category it’s sensible to think about what increased cancer risk you’re willing to accept.

  19. SJW-Your mild reportage is on a par with Obummers shite about “Government is just the things we chose to do together”

  20. SJW

    They aren’t just “presenting the facts”. Even if they hadn’t twisted the facts the reason they are doing is is to press for more restrictions on our right to drink – higher taxes and higher prices.

    It is a mistake to think of each action in isolation. For many in the public health racket each event is part of salami tactics to get to the end goal, which I believe is prohibition.

  21. Rob
    January 8, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    However, a great number of people like the State telling other people what they can and cannot do, which is why political parties today range from mere annoying fuss buckets to full on authoritarians.

    ===================

    Indeed. People actually like fascist government.

  22. SJW

    The problem with the cancer risk argument is that overall moderate drinking appears to be better for you (eg after cancer – other effect = better for you) and the CMO ignores that. Indeed her pants are on fire.

  23. SJW – please produce a death certificate that notes the subject died from colon cancer CAUSED BY DRINKING ALCOHOL.

    Or, considering ‘Doctors are more aware of this than most, because they tend to the afflicted,’ give us one link to a doctor tending to a patient with bowel cancer CAUSED BY DRINKING ALCOHOL.

    People get colon cancer. Doctors don’t know why. Some might come from drinking alcohol, but for even those who have been drinkers, it still isn’t known why/how they got it.

    ‘The fact is that drinking alcohol carries a measurably increased dose-dependent risk of cancer in the parts of the body exposed to the stuff.’

    SJW, you can’t turn a maybe into a fact.

  24. For once I kind of agree with SJW inasmuch as it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suppose there could be a small increased risk of cancer due to the pleasutable activity of drinking, as indeed there is a small increased risk of an early death due to the pleasurable activity of driving a small sports car fast up a curvy hill road, having unprotected sex with brazilian prostitutes, smoking 20 a day, eating enormous T-bone steaks… where I disagree is that it is the government’s job to take our money, at gunpoint, essentially, in order to give it to drab nonentities with bad breath and worse teeth who then proceed to bore us to fucking death with non sequiturs and misinformation.

    The government’s job is to keep unwanted furriners out and to collect the rubbish. And they’re precious little use at either.

  25. @ Bloke in Italy
    The government’s job is to keep unwanted foreign *armies* out and to administer justice.
    Not too bad at the first – we haven’t been invaded by foreigners since 1688 (I’m not categorising Scots as foreigners so 1715 and 1745 don’t count). Justice not so hot since the system has been captured by lawyers.

  26. give us one link to a doctor tending to a patient with bowel cancer CAUSED BY DRINKING ALCOHOL

    By a similar argument, smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer and asbestos doesn’t cause mesothelioma. But they do – the argument is fallacious.

  27. Here’s Liam Donaldson, CMO until 2010, in The Times a couple of days ago. After criticising the government for refusing to implement a sugar tax, he concludes:

    The National Health Service, like others around the world, faces the pressing question of how to provide safe, high-quality care without running out of money. Delaying the onset of chronic disease is vital. Without action, the NHS may become unsustainable.

    Two observations:
    1. The motivation here is not puritanism so much as containing the costs of continuing a socialist healthcare system that provides – by its very nature – no incentives to its clients to look after their own health.
    2. The public health lobby is so deeply embedded in the civil service that any government will be pressured by it. So far, Cameron has resisted their pressure for a sugar tax. In the end, he may capitulate for no other reason than that he’s busy and has bigger fish to fry.
    2.

  28. BII:

    “there is a small increased risk of an early death due to the pleasurable activity of driving a small sports car fast up a curvy hill road, having unprotected sex with brazilian prostitutes, smoking 20 a day, eating enormous T-bone steaks”

    I’d say that all of those are pretty damn risky in terms of serious injury/disease, if not death —apart from the T-bone (and half a bottle of claret to wash it down).

  29. It seems obvious to me that if you have oozing pustules on your body, you have something bad in your blood. It stands to reason therefore that if I drain that bad stuff out of your body by cutting open a blood vessel or two, you will be all better.

  30. The numbers go something like this:

    For people who drink more than Ms Pursemouth would like, six out of a hundred will get, say, bowel cancer.

    For people who drink less than Nanny Fussbucket’s limits, five out of a hundred will get bowel cancer.

    Now don’t get the idea that I’m arguing that the risk is worth it; I’m arguing that that kind of difference in risk is not measurable even if the fucking confidence interval says 95 fucking percent.

    And let’s not forget that these ar the massaged figures from the prohibitionists.

  31. Theo-

    The costs argument is simple justification. There is little financial gain, and probable loss, from causing people to live longer, since the reality is that most health spending on a person is at the end of their life, whenever it comes, to treat the inevitable chronic breakdowns of bodily systems which cause death, most of which manifest as chronic disease. There is no saving lives. There is only delaying, and worsening, of death-causing illnesses.

    The calculations are a joke based on a fallacy. The statistics on costs are just a stick to beat people into compliance with.

  32. since the reality is that most health spending on a person is at the end of their life, whenever it comes

    Absolutely right. So what’s the point of all of this nannying & nudging? The NHS has a funding problem, government has a funding problem (with old people and pensions) – why not just encourage them all to let their hair down.

    People will enjoy it more, younger workers will still be productive (no real economic loss there), and there is less unproductive old stuff going on. What am I missing?

  33. Off the top of my head I’d guess that in terms of healthcare costs dying prematurely of cancer is a net loss, but dying prematurely of heart disease is a net gain. Which would fit in perfectly with our Lesbian commentator’s theory.

    However, I persist in the view that doctors’ primary motivation is that they care about their patients’ health.

  34. Not too bad at the first – we haven’t been invaded by foreigners since 1688 (I’m not categorising Scots as foreigners so 1715 and 1745 don’t count).

    1797, the French landed at Fishguard. They didn’t get very far.

    And if you count the Channel Islands as ‘us’, then there was the 1940 invasion by the Nazis.

  35. ‘By a similar argument, smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer’

    Some people who don’t smoke get lung cancer. Ergo, it is not knowable whether a person with lung cancer got it from smoking, even if they smoked.

    It is not a trivial distinction between whether smoking can cause lung cancer or that it did cause a cancer. It is a presumption, not a fact.

    Doctors treating the afflicted do not get a special knowledge of what caused the affliction.

    Maybe someone with bowel cancer got it from drinking. That’s all we know. It is not basis for government scaremongering.

    BWTM. The link between smoking and lung cancer have nothing to do with the supposed link between colon cancer and alcohol, your linkage notwithstanding.

    I repeat the challenge to SJW to provide a case where someone’s colon cancer was caused by drinking. You can’t do it.

  36. -SJW
    ” it’s sensible to think about what increased cancer risk you’re willing to accept.”

    You may want to stop using Oxygen then.. Now that is nasty stuff.. Top 10 of mutagenics, in fact, in several spots.

  37. @ Bloke in Wales
    The Channel islands are not part of the UK and have a different government.
    As to Fishguard, I could plead that less than a battalion (excluding the criminals who deserted immediately they got ashore) doesn’t count as an army, but I admit that I completely overlooked it.

  38. Bloke not in Cymru

    Fishguard invasion was just some sort of stunt/feint surely, even the French commander doesn’t seem to have taken it seriously judging by the records. Either that or it was part of some strange ‘B ark’ project to get rid of some worthless recruits and officers.
    That said it makes for fun reading, as a farce rather than for military value. Reminds me of The Mouse that Roared and the invasion scene

  39. I repeat the challenge to SJW to provide a case where someone’s colon cancer was caused by drinking. You can’t do it.
    Of course I can’t. So what? I challenge you to add a drop of benzene to your drink once a week. I promise you that if you subsequently die of leukaemia no one will be able to prove that the benzene caused it.

  40. “I challenge you to add a drop of benzene to your drink once a week. no one will be able to prove that the benzene caused it.”

    Nope, given that you’d get about the equivalent dose from exhausts ( industrial or vehicle), settling tarmac, fueling your car/gas station vents. etc. in the (not so ) Big City anyway. Especially if you lived through the 50’s to 90’s..

    Besides one drop (about 0.05 ml) diluted over your weekly intake of fluids? You’re talking a couple ppb at best. Even that one drop mixed in a shotglass and downed weekly wouldn’t hurt you, and barely register on the total stress put on your body caused by All The Other Stuff you encounter daily.

    Pull the other one. It’s got bells on..

    Oh, I would very much advise you to avoid pine forests. That lovely smell? *muhahaahahaa!*

  41. one drop ( 0.05ml) benzene = 5.61e-4 Mol
    one shotglass of water = 1.11 mol

    concentration in shotglass: 5.05e-4 = 505ppm which is just on the edge of a “dangerous dose” at prolongued exposure, which downing a shotglass isn’t.

    But you stated weekly, which if you just count fluid intake comes down to about say, about 15 liters.That’s 7500 shotglasses.
    This dilutes the drop of benzene to 67 ppb…
    Which is well under even the most stringent recommended norm of 100 ppb, more than ten times smaller than the most stringent permissible level of 1 ppm, and so far smaller than any concentrations indicating Danger that it’s not worth thinking about.
    And that’s for benzene vapour, which hits your blood stream straight away through your lungs, intestinal uptake is far less efficient.

    And then we haven’t even considered the extra water content of whatever you eat + adsorbtion by the solids you eat..

    So do hit me with that drop… and see if I even blink..

  42. So Much For Subtlety

    Social Justice Warrior – “Off the top of my head I’d guess that in terms of healthcare costs dying prematurely of cancer is a net loss, but dying prematurely of heart disease is a net gain.”

    That may be so. But on the other hand drinkers pay so much excise and duty that they will have paid for whatever minor medical costs they inflict on the NHS many many times over.

    “However, I persist in the view that doctors’ primary motivation is that they care about their patients’ health”

    If I want a flu shot, I go to see my GP. A professional, well rested, decades of experience. It costs a lot of money. If I crash my motorcycle on a Saturday afternoon and break some bones, I get taken to the ICU. Where I will have a spotty post-teen who is learning to be a doctor but does not know anything yet and may well have been working for the past 36 hours without any sleep or decent food.

    This is, of course, very much to the convenience of the well rested, middle aged, powerful doctors. Less so for their patients. I find it hard to reconcile what doctors do with the belief they have the slightest regard for the well being of their patients. Otherwise those two members of the medical fraternity would switch places.

  43. Grikath: The first time you got your calculation wrong by a factor of 1000 or so. Then you tried again and got the sums wrong by only a factor of 10, but you messed up also by doing your calculations in molar ratio rather than mass ratio.

    Please get someone competent to check your numbers in the unlikely event that anyone ever trusts you to do a calculation that actually matters.

    Oh, and the EU recommended limit for benzene in drinking water is 1ppb by mass. You’d better get someone else to look things up for you too if you ever need to do that.

  44. “Doctors are more aware of this than most, because they tend to the afflicted”. Whereas also: Doctors are more aware of this than most, because they tend to BE AMONG the afflicted.

  45. RRs of 1.1 to <1.5 are considered weak, meaning it is perfectly possible that other risk factors are at play. The studies referred to in Chris Snowdon's article are primarily in this range and at best move into the moderate range (1.5 to <3.0).

    All one can say about the increased risks of mortality from various diseases due to drinking alcohol is that the studies are suggestive of a link. The same is true of any protective benefits.

    The relationships are such that they do not justify the majority of people changing their drinking habits, i.e. if you are teetotal it is not worth taking up drinking and for most drinkers there is no value in reducing their drinking.

  46. To those people demanding proof that drinking causes cancer, that’s barmy.

    The metastudy I link to above shows that the relative risk rate rises at roughly the rate suggested by the CMO. A metastudy is one that pools together all the studies done in a field and uses the larger sample size to increase the power of the predictions. All these studies control for a range of other lifestyle factors.

    Can we point to a particular person and say “booze caused that colon cancer”? no. But in a group of moderate drinkers the risk they get cancer relative to those who drink one drink a day, there is a measurable increase in colon cancers that is statistically robust.

    Of course, since we all die of something and most studies suggest moderate alcohol consumption prolongs life, the CMO’s argument is poor, but to deny the likely increase in cancers is factually incorrect.

  47. Bloke in North Dorset

    @SJW

    “However, I persist in the view that doctors’ primary motivation is that they care about their patients’ health.”

    Maybe at the population level, but we know that individual doctors have different motivations at different stages of life, just like the rest of us. And that’s leaving aside the likes of Harold Shipman.

    Taking these claims and others at face value we now know that alcohol increases the risk of colon cancer, being obese increases the risk of heart and other diseases, smoking increases the risk of lung cancer etc, but at the individual level we can all tell a tale of an individual who didn’t succumb to those risks.

    Its all part of life’s rich tapestry and something we need to consider at the individual level, like driving fast on mountain roads, crossing the road and even sailing single handed. At the population level there is an increased risk in these activities but we make our own trade-off at the individual level because we all get different utility from these activities eg you wouldn’t catch me speeding on mountain roads but I’m happy to sail single handed.

    Just because at the population level we are crap at hyperbolic discounting it doesn’t mean that these fuckers have a right to force their view of what is an acceptable risk on the rest of us and force their view of the world on us.

    And that is what most around here argue about, at the population level, even if there are some at the individual level who want to argue about the details as well.

  48. IanB

    There is little financial gain, and probable loss, from causing people to live longer, since the reality is that most health spending on a person is at the end of their life, whenever it comes, to treat the inevitable chronic breakdowns of bodily systems which cause death, most of which manifest as chronic disease. There is no saving lives. There is only delaying, and worsening, of death-causing illnesses. The calculations are a joke based on a fallacy. The statistics on costs are just a stick to beat people into compliance with.

    If people live healthier lives, however long they may be, healthcare costs are likely to be lower. Granted that nothing can be done about the demographic bulge of over-85s, the bean counters in our socialist NHS are looking at saving money by reversing a different trend – the growth in chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity earlier in life. Currently, the costs of obesity and diabetes consume c.15% of the £106bn NHS budget, and the percentage will grow. So NHS managers will try to save money where they can – i.e. by trying to prevent by their nanny statism people getting chronic conditions at younger ages.

    This is a consequence of having a socialist healthcare system that provides no incentives to people to take care of their own health. The only joke here is your cod philosophy that attributes the phenomenon to statistical manipulation by a pan-galactic conspiracy of puritanical progressives.

  49. This is a consequence of having a socialist healthcare system that provides no incentives to people to take care of their own health.

    As opposed to what sort of system? In the USA medical bankruptcy is quite common (now somewhat reduced by Obamacare). Does that country have low rates of obesity and diabetes?

    However, not all incentives are financial. Rich or poor, good health is much better than ill health, and most people would rather live than die. Mightn’t that be an incentive to look after oneself, especially if given good information about the risks?

    But as this thread illustrates, chimp brains are not good with long-term risks. If you want to use economic incentives to encourage healthy lifestyles, you need them to be immediate – sin taxes. Which is not a popular observation hereabouts.

  50. I do believe that SJW is taking a rather “homeopathic” view of the evidence, in line with the view of his beloved Chief Witchfinder General, sorry, Chief Medical Officer. Both he and she might benefit from a Statistics 101 course.

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