Top of the list is the lowering of the 'recommended drinking limits', which were already impractically low, to the point where no amount of alcohol is now considered safe, and neither men nor women should regularly consume more than 14 units a week. One glass of wine or a pint of weak beer per day, basically.
Government guidelines. The very phrase makes me reach for a glass. And as usual, the science backing it up is pretty dubious when you actually scrutinise it.
Lies, damned lies and 650% of your recommended daily alcohol
|Drinking my daily maximum...|
If drinking more than two units of alcohol a day increases your risk of developing, say, throat cancer by 12%, this does not mean that you have a 12% chance of developing throat cancer. It means a 12% increase over the baseline probability - so, all other factors considered, you had a 1% chance of developing the condition, your drinking will elevate that to 1.12%.
Simply being alive is a substantially bigger risk factor than the increased alcohol consumption!
I don't disagree with the advice about having a couple of alcohol-free days during a week. This would seem to be common sense, and is generally something I do. But at the same time I know plenty of folks who drink moderately every single day with no ill effects, so who am I to judge?
The usual arguments are trotted out about how 'binge drinkers are a strain on our A&E departments' - and this might very well be true, but this situation has absolutely fuck-all to do with people drinking 14 or 21 units per week. 30-40 per night, maybe. And if you are drinking 37 units in a single night, are you really going to be persuaded by propaganda advising you to lower your consumption from three units a day to two? (Of course you won't, you'll be too busy having the time of your life swigging Netto vodka in the centre of Glasgow.)
If drinkers really did stick to 2 units a day, just about every pub in Britain would close. The licensed trade is only viable because people can and do frequently exceed the guidelines by considerable margins - and, for the most part, do so safely and without serious consequence. Moreover, the rivers of duty flowing into the government's coffers would be reduced to a trickling creek, and that's why none of these recommendations are ever in danger of translating into a ban.
My beef with Hugh Pennington
But it's not just alcohol that's under attack. This week we've heard that Hugh Pennington, a professor of bacteriology, would like to see the sale of medium-rare burgers banned. Not just 'guidelines' that everybody can happily ignore, but actually banned.
What a cunt. I don't spend my time campaigning to ban microscopes or petri dishes, or whatever it is that brings him joy!
|This should be banned, should it?!?|
We've finally got some fantastic burger joints in London now, having been crying out for them for years. (My first ever post as BV, over five years ago was on this very subject.)
This is partly because they're not afraid to source better quality ingredients, but also because you can have your burgers served rare these days, getting the full benefit of the meaty goodness.
I'll take the risk of listeria and e-coli, thank you very much. The chances of getting ill eating at a Byron or Honest Burger is probably about as (un)likely as the risks associated with drinking more than one pint a day.
This is basic Libertarian philosophy. Humans should have the freedom to take calculated risks.
People like our friend Hugh might not want to trade a slightly increased risk of getting ill for the pleasure of a juicy pink burger or a lengthy session at the pub. But those of us who consider this a worthwhile deal should always be free to take the bet.