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Friday, October 19, 2007

How ‘safe drinking’ experts let a bottle or two go to their heads
October 20, 2007

The recommended maximum intake was set 20 years ago by doctors who simply plucked a limit out of the air

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.

Middle-class, middle-aged drinkers, according to a report commissioned by the Department of Health, had been consuming so much wine for so long that many were putting their health “at significant risk”.

Cue the sound of corks returning to half-drunk bottles across the land. Had the users known how safe drinking limits came into being, they might just have poured another glass.

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”.
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