How Nanny made up the rules...
How ‘safe drinking’ experts let a bottle or two go to their heads - Times Online
A collective shudder of dismay rattled wine glasses on middle-class dining tables this week when a report labelled some of Britain’s most affluent towns as sozzled dens of “hazardous drinking” iniquity.
When the report defined any man who drinks more than 21 units of alcohol a week, or woman who consumes more than 14, as a hazardous drinker, the authors were relying on limits that have been set in stone for the past 20 years.
Yet these guidelines have no basis in science. Rather, in the words of a member of the committee that drew them up, they were simply “plucked out of the air”.
The safe limits were introduced in 1987 after the Royal College of Physicians produced its first health report on alcohol misuse. In A Great and Growing Evil: The Medical Consequences of Alcohol Abuse, the college warned that a host of medical problems – including liver disease, strokes, heart disease, brain disease and infertility – were associated with excessive drinking. The report was the most significant study into alcohol-related disorders to date.
But Richard Smith, the former editor of the British Medical Journal and a member of the college’s working party on alcohol, told The Times yesterday that the figures were not based on any clear evidence. He remembers “rather vividly” what happened when the discussion came round to whether the group should recommend safe limits for men and women.
“David Barker was the epidemiologist on the committee and his line was that ‘We don’t really have any decent data whatsoever. It’s impossible to say what’s safe and what isn’t’.
“And other people said, ‘Well, that’s not much use. If somebody comes to see you and says ‘What can I safely drink?’, you can’t say ‘Well, we’ve no evidence. Come back in 20 years and we’ll let you know’. So the feeling was that we ought to come up with something. So those limits were really plucked out of the air. They weren’t really based on any firm evidence at all.
So more than a glass and a half may be OK... just as well for tonight.....