Are You Drinking in Line with New Guidelines?

Gentlemen, the advantage is over!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week and a half, you’ve probably noticed that the UK has released new guidelines about alcohol consumption. The recommended amount has been dialled down, and men are now being advised to drink no more than women.

Tantamount to asking Texans to give up their guns; there has been some classically British outrage over the guidelines. One notorious ‘moderate’ urged a ‘mass protest’ (presumably held at the pub), the media threw some sensational headlines around the place, and everyone else shrugged, muttered ‘oh well’ and went back to their Sauvignon Blanc.

So, what do the new drinking guidelines mean for you?

New drinking guidelines lay out a recommended weekly limit. Whilst beforehand drinking advice allowed men a daily three to four units and women two to three; there’s now no daily advice. This is to reinforce the idea that drinking every day is not recommended.

Sadly, for men the weekly advantage is over. Whereas beforehand men were given a weekly limit of 21 units (compared to a woman’s 14); now both sexes are advised not to exceed 14 units a week.[1]

That’s the equivalent of six pints of beer (4%), or seven medium glasses of wine (11.5%) or 14 shots of spirits (40%).[2]

Wellman_Beer_Facts_Drinking

Why the change of advice?

Since the previous drinking guidelines were published in 1995, we have a lot more information about the risks of drinking. First of all, the risk is about the same for men and women – although it takes slightly different forms. Immediate risk is higher to men (accidents and injuries), whereas women have a higher risk of long-term illness and premature death as a result of drinking.

The guidelines also point out that for certain diseases any amount of drinking raises the risk – this includes mouth, throat and breast cancers.

Do you need to worry?

Well, first of all, excessive worrying can be damaging to the health. So stop that immediately.

If you’ve been diligently sticking to previous drinking guidelines and are now faced with the idea that you might have been consuming too much, there’s no need to panic. These guidelines are in place to create the situation where statistically you have a 1% chance of dying from an alcohol related disease. According to Sir David Spiegelhalter, professor of Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge,

An hour of TV watching a day, or a bacon sandwich a couple of times a week, is more dangerous to your long-term health.’[3]

That being said, it is worthwhile to approach drinking with the limits in mind.

Alcohol is many things, an activity, a social lubricant, an indulgence, an excellent accompaniment to certain meals; but good for the health it is not. Then again, neither’s driving, oversleeping or chocolate pudding.

All things in moderation; that’s what we say.

P.S.

Coming, as I do, from a different angle, alcohol is a pest if you are trying to tackle a waning sex life.

Brewer’s droop is a long known affliction:  in answer to Macduff’s question, the Porter replies, “Lechery, Sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance”.

Acute droop may be temporary. But push your luck with the soup for long and hard enough and you will grow a pair of lovely knockers to go with your pot.  An angry liver bites back with a flood of oestrogen to swamp the efforts of your puny poisoned testicles, and morning (or noon or night) glories will become naught but a memory. As Rabbie Burns inevitably said –

“There’s death in the cup – sae beware!

Nay, more – there is danger in touching;

But wha can avoid the fell snare?

The man and his wine’s sae bewitching”

Hey Ho.

Richard Petty

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35252650

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/new-alcohol-guidelines-how-is-drinking-linked-to-cancer-a6802596.html

[3] http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-new-alcohol-guidelines-review-from-the-chief-medical-officers/

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