Four times scaremongering studies on alcohol have been debunked

“One drink a day ‘can shorten life’”, BBC

An extra glass of wine can be deadly. Apparently.

Let’s start with the most recent case of scaremongering. Research published in UK medical journal The Lancet claimed that drinkers who consume between 10 to 15 drinks per week risk shaving up to two years off their life expectancy. Any more booze than that could mean up to five years less life.

The report recommended that the government recommendations for alcohol consumption – which are already among the lowest in the world – to be lowered from 14 units per week (six pints of average strength beer or 10 glasses of low strength wine) to 12.5 units (five glasses of wine or five pints).

According to the report, drinking any more than this could increase the risk of strokes, fatal aneurysms and heart failure.

This is pretty strong stuff, yet the BBC’s claim that one drink a day shortened life was still considered to have gone too far. The BBC amended their report and changed their headline to “regular excess drinking can take years of your life” after David Spiegelhalter, the lead researcher, complained the report had been misrepresented.

Even Colin Angus, an alcohol policy modeller at the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group who is usually pretty anti-alcohol, argued that the report was unwise to recommend lowering the UK drinking guidelines to only 12.5 units per week.

He said on Twitter: “While the study has a lot to say that should inform the development of drinking guidelines internationally, it is not appropriate for the authors to say that all guidelines should be set at 100g [12.5 units].”

What’s more, statistician Adam Jacobs highlighted that non-drinkers were excluded from graphs in the body of the report which aimed to downplay the health benefits of moderate drinking.

Turn to pg31 of the study’s appendix and you’ll find that the risk of death for those who had never drunk alcohol was 20% higher than those who drink the recommended 12.5 units, and is the same as those who drink 37.5 units per week.

It follows that drinkers can enjoy more than a mere 12.5 units of alcohol a week and still be just as healthy as teetotallers.

7 Responses to “Four times scaremongering studies on alcohol have been debunked”

  1. Martin Macmaster says:

    It’s not the studies that are scaremongering generally, it’s the sensationalist reporting!

  2. Ralph Norton says:

    Regardless, it still is poison at the end of the day. But of course, your life, your choice.

    • Kin_Free says:

      Ralph Norton; If alcohol is poison then everything else you eat and drink is also poison. Be careful what you imbibe ralph – it could all kill you! The poison, of course, is in the dose. Indeed, some people are easily conned by hyperbolic claims of constituent poisons or toxins in the selected food, drink or smoke that they want to demonise. They all have them. Ever heard of a Zohnerism ralph? (Google it)

  3. Awesome !!

    It doesn’t take a Quantum Rocket Scientist to realize that after a millennium of man making fine wine and tequila that not only is it not harmful but beneficial and fun (in moderation ;).

    This Campaign by the media to create a paradigm that polarizes peoples opinion about anything is laughable. They continue to Fail.

    Great Job Simon Fearn,well written. I look forward to your next Article.


  4. Richard Corles says:

    I recall the story of a doctor who advised his patient to give up drinking. The patient asked if this would make him live longer. No, said the doctor, but it will seem longer.

  5. Kin_Free says:

    I’m a bit late in posting here so it will probably be left unread. Nevertheless here is my comment;

    Scaremongering studies debunked, yes, but will it make any difference? It didn’t when anti-smoker propaganda was debunked – the antismoker gravy train kept rolling-on, regardless. They just ignored it, and I’m beginning to think that gullibility is the default human condition.

    The names mentioned in this article relating to alcohol CONTROL, are well known for their contribution to tobacco CONTROL. They are all seasoned anti-smoker prohibition industry ‘experts’, now morphed into alcohol ‘experts’, using the same tactics to de-normalise people who like to drink alcohol.

    eg. Gerard Hastings was the first UK Professor of Social Marketing and founder/director of the Institute for Social Marketing and Centre for Tobacco Control Research. (note; ‘Social marketing’ uses techniques drawn from the commercial sector . It was developed from ‘public relations’ which in turn evolved from ‘Propaganda’ and is used “To control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it.”This was utilised very effectively by Edward L Bernays, a leading member and sponsor of the early anti-smoker movement. In the 1940’s, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter described Bernays and his colleagues as “professional poisoners of the public mind, exploiters of foolishness, fanaticism, and self-interest.”) Nothing ever seems to change eh? As true today as it was then?

    Hastings was one of several anti-tobacco ‘experts’ who gave evidence in this BIG legal Scottish case (McTear v Imperial Tobacco 2005) that few are aware of even today. It was brought by the anti-smoker industry in order to try to prove smoking caused lung cancer. They produced all the best anti-smoker ‘experts’ and ‘evidence’ that they could lay their hands on, but it wasn’t anywhere near good enough. Judge Nimmo Smith comments;

    “On one view of the scientific approach, these studies [produced by the anti-smoker industry] could be regarded as yielding no more than untested hypotheses.”… “Mr McEachran’s (counsel for McTear) main argument, as I understood it, was that the conclusion that cigarette smoking could cause lung cancer had met with general acceptance in the scientific community by the late 1950s, was accepted by the media in the 1970s, was taught at medical schools and reflected in textbooks…”

    “This is all very well, but I have to say that I am reminded of the Bellman in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, who said: “What I tell you three times is true”. He ruled; “…applying the law relating to expert evidence, I am UNABLE to find it proved that cigarette smoking can cause lung cancer.” (McTear v Imperial Tobacco, 2005).

    This legal ruling was ignored and people are still dying, proper pubs and other businesses are still closing down as a result of the anti-smoker agenda. The same will be true of the anti-alcohol agenda as they ride the successful anti-smoker wave and use the same sort of junk science, absurd exaggerations and downright lies to justify it. Control of the masses and prohibition is the name of the game, just as it was 100 years ago, the only real objectives of these despicable people except that this time it is prohibition by a thousand small cuts or salami slices and they know that anti-smoking and anti-alcohol are campaigns that always complement each other.

    Alcohol CONTROL, Tobacco CONTROL, and indeed many other individual lifestyle controls, are part of the same agenda, directed by many of the same people. While they keep the people (their enemy) divided on each of these lifestyle choices (divide and conquer) – their propaganda talents are easily and often transferred between campaigns.

    Maybe the drinks business and and others in the hospitality trade here, should copy or better still, get together with business owners in Michigan to develop an effective international response to the coordinated attack on respectable business and all our individual freedoms ;

    If you think the anti-smoker campaign can be separated from the anti-alcohol campaign, you might as well forget about both. ‘When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. (Edmund Burke)

  6. Kin_Free says:

    ps.Note;I am not accusing any of these named persons of lying.

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