European politicians urged to recognise the health benefits of moderate drinking
Scientific studies show that moderate drinking is part of a healthy lifestyle, so why is the European Parliament sticking with a “flawed” study suggesting there is no ‘safe’ level of alcohol consumption?
That’s the question being asked by the Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV), which represents the wine trade in the European Union, who are calling for the European Parliament to “put robust science at the heart of policy making.”
In particular, the European wine association is urging European politicians to reconsider the statement that there is “no safe level of alcohol consumption”, which came from an EU report in the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) – and a claim that was based on a “flawed” study, as previously reported by db.
Nevertheless, yesterday, this EU report was adopted by the European Parliament with 29 votes in favour, 1 against, and 4 abstentions.
The CEEV state that the assumption there is ‘no safe level’ is “misleading and simplistic” as it fails to consider drinking patterns and other lifestyle factors.
It’s also a danger to the European wine trade, as such rhetoric may be used to justify more taxes, marketing restrictions and health warnings that could have damaging effects on the alcohol industry.
The group also notes that the ‘no safe level’ message is “counterproductive”, as “the moderate consumption of wine, particularly as part of the Mediterranean diet and as part of a healthy lifestyles, is associated with greater longevity and the prevention of disease”.
The ‘no safe level’ assumption is based on a single study – Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) study published by The Lancet in 2018 – which, the CEEV has reminded db, “has been severely criticized by the scientific community for its analytical flaws”.
While the CEEV notes that it supports the EU’s Beating Cancer Plan and its overall goal to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, the association stresses that the emphasis should be on “tackling the root causes of harmful drinking”.
In contrast, it said that, “As Europeans, we should be proud of our gastronomic culture, of which wine is an inextricable component.”
Meanwhile, on 26 October, db listened in on a virtual roundtable hosted by Alcohol in Moderation (AIM) that tackled the topic of whether moderate drinking was “still a healthy lifestyle choice”.
Featuring presentations from Prof. Curtis Ellison (USA), Dr. Erik Skovenborg (Denmark) and Dr. Creina Stockley (Australia), the event concluded that “Current scientific data indicate that adults who consume wine or any other alcoholic beverages moderately and regularly with food, and without binge drinking, have a lower risk of most of the diseases of ageing and tend to live longer than if they consumed no alcoholic beverages.”
In short, the event drew on scientific evidence to show that light to moderate drinking can be – among factors such as a balanced diet, non-smoking, normal body weight and regular physical activity – a healthy lifestyle choice.
Meanwhile, we reported on a seminar on wine and weight management earlier this year that drew on a study called PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea) to show that wine drinkers, particularly those having between 7 and 14 units per week, had a lower number of cardiovascular risk factors compared to non-drinkers, which was measured by looking at glucose tolerance and triglycerides levels among the 7,500 randomised participants.
Furthermore, in March this year, db reported on a virtual seminar in which German doctor and professor Nicolai Worm claimed that the World Health Organisation was “misleading the world” when it comes to Covid-19 and alcohol.
Recording that WHO has been urging people to “avoid alcohol altogether so that you do not undermine your own immune system”, he drew attention to several scientific studies that either fail to support such an assertion, or show that moderate drinking can actually boost immunity.