Friday, 4 March 2011

So there isn't an epidemic of drunken debauchery after all!


A couple of week ago I wrote this about the authors of the lastest anti-alcohol diatribe:

In truth these authors aren’t concerned doctors at all but hardcore advocates of prohibition and their prescription for the evils of alcohol is to remove ease of access for all of us rather than to deal with the psychology that leads to alcohol abuse and related problems.

Turns out that I was right again about the extent to which Prof Ian Gilmore and his friends just make stuff up to provide the answers that suit their argument. This was - to remind you, the good doctors' argument:

“Few can doubt that there is a particular problem in the UK” and pointed to rapidly rising levels of deaths from liver disease.

You will also recall that our doctors also made up a speculative (but suitably big) number of deaths - 250,000 - that would occur if we didn't act to reduce general "access" to alcohol and raise its price.  So what's the truth about drinking - and specifically so-called binge drinking?

Since 2001/2 levels of alcohol consumption outside the home - you know the behaviour that the telly and the papers like to focus on - have fallen by 40% (according the the Office for National Statistics). In the home consumption has only fallen by 4% - which not only starts to explain why all the pubs are closing but shows that total levels of alcohol consumption have fallen. We are - for whatever reason - drinking less.

As to the "rapidly rising levels of liver disease":

The UK figure for 2009 (10.82) is lower than that for any year since 2002 (10.44).

With falling levels of alcohol consumption we have to expect that this will be reflected in falling levels of liver disease - if, as Prof Gilmore and his mates assert, alcohol is the primary contributor to such disease. But that wouldn't fit their increasing and increasingly shrill cries for "a minimum price for alcohol" and a host of other "denormalisation" efforts.

These puritans - Gilmore is an active member of the UK's temperance movement - seek to destroy the pleasures of ordinary people on the basis of what is an almost wholly spurious public health argument. Read this, for example:

They do not count any of the benefits of alcohol, coincidentally the subject of a meta-analysis in the latest BMJ which pooled data from 84 previous studies. This showed that the risk of dying from all causes was 13 per cent lower in drinkers than in non-drinkers. The effect is largely due to a 25 per cent reduction in heart deaths among moderate drinkers. 

Where was that when the Professor was putting together his collection of convenient fictions?


1 comment:

George Speller said...

Y're a gem. Good piece.