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Myth busted, a small amount of alcohol isn’t good for you

Drinking any amount of alcohol is harmful

Alcohol is the leading attributable cause of death amongst the adult population ( between the ages of 15-49 ) and yet the message people have heard from doctors and the media has been that drinking a small amount of red wine may be good for your health. This was never true but it led to a lot of vulnerable people being given a validation for their drinking by the medical profession. This week, the medical research journal “The Lancet” has finally exposed this myth and made clear it’s advice that drinking anything at all is harmful.

There is nothing wrong with doing harmful things of course. Riding horses is harmful, and yet, people make an educated decision that riding their horse is fun and it is what they choose to do. You could say the same about riding a motorbike or many other activities that people do to enjoy themselves. They are prepared to take the risks that they know go along with it.

The same might be said for alcohol. People drink and enjoy it and can do so knowing the risks involved. So what is the big fuss with this new report in the Lancet?

Well, there is a massive difference when half of the alcohol is consumed by people with a mental health problem which gives them a pathological dependence on alcohol. In this case, every bit of information needs to be as clear as possible.

If you do a quick Google for ‘red wine is good for your heart’ you will find a long list of articles that have come out over the years where people tried to make the case that drinking ‘one glass a day of red wine’ was good for your health, specifically, it was supposed to be good for your heart. Unfortunately, these studies were flawed because they compared moderate drinkers against abstainers without taking into account the health reasons that may have led people to abstain. When you take this factor out, there were never any health benefits to drinking even just one glass of wine per day ( https://www.jsad.com/doi/10.15288/jsad.2016.77.185 ) Every drink did some damage.

So, no health benefits, but on the other hand, among the population from 15-49, alcohol was the leading attributable risk factor in deaths! So there is a massive risk that needs to be communicated about heavy alcohol consumption even though, for some strange reason, it seems to be hard to have that message communicated clearly.

Of course, the average person who drinks just one glass of wine per day probably doesn’t care if they take it or leave it and probably doesn’t care about the minimal impact it might have on their health, positive or negative. Unfortunately, the group who paid most attention to the ‘supposed’ health benefits of alcohol were the group I mentioned earlier who were drinking substantially more than one glass of wine per day and who are experiencing devastating consequences from drinking on all fronts, not least health. Having information which was misleading had the terrible effect of reinforcing denial about the need to stop drinking.

Finally, the truth is made clear. Any drinking is harmful and excessive drinking is excessively harmful.
( https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31310-2/fulltext ) These are the facts. If you choose to drink moderately and accept those risks then that is great and absolutely your right, but please help us communicate more clearly with the 10% who are hurting themselves and others terribly.

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