No more cheers for Britain?

The nanny state in Britain is now telling us to drink less alcohol. But the advice is nonsense. Acohol, especially red wine, is good for you, as plenty of studies have shown

Robin Mitchinson
On 11 January 2016 09:00

Six bottles of plonk each day like Gerard Depardieu (but then he does own a vineyard) probably leads to a short life but a gay one. But now we have  our Chief Nanny, ‘Dame’ Sally Davies, making the front pages by instructing us not to drink more than a glass a day, if that.

As she knew she would, of course. We are quite used to publicity-seeking politicians and mandarins who are careless of the impact of their pontifications. But the hidden dimension is the harm that these people can do amongst the impressionable.

Her dire warnings that with alcohol we are all doomed are quite unsupported by scientific evidence as far as is known, (like so much of medical ‘findings’ these days, there is total reliance on statistics. Well, ‘it has long been recognised by public men of all kinds that statistics come under the head of lying and that no lie is so false or inconclusive as that based  on statistics!’).

Science tells a rather different story based on respectable research.

First, a declaration of interest; I have been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness of we oldies aged 50+ years, which is  caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels in the eye. It is incurable and inoperable, but it can be arrested by the active component in red wine, resveratrol, which is present in the grape skin plus some other fruits such as bilberries.

So I am not about to give up my daily medicine even though the Nanny might prefer me with a white stick.

Several Spanish Universities have researched the topic. One major project was to understand why the Spanish, despite, having a high cholesterol diet (lots of shellfish) had by European standards a low incidence of heart and circulatory diseases. The conclusion was the large consumption of red wine compared with elsewhere.

They have also published in the BMC Medicine journal the likelihood that it significantly reduces the risk of depression; I can vouch for that.

Scientists from the University of Leicester have reported that regular, moderate red wine consumption can reduce the rate of bowel tumours by approximately 50 percent.

Since medieval times it has been believed that wine slows the aging process, partly because monks often lived to a ripe old age in the days when wine was seen as the only safe drink. This has since been endorsed by Harvard Medical School researchers reporting that red wine, specifically the resveratrol content, has anti-aging properties.

Research at the University of London found that compounds commonly found in red wine, keep the blood vessels healthy and are one of the factors that contribute towards longer life spans enjoyed by the people in Sardinia and the southwest of France.

Studies in  Los Angles indicate that  chemicals in the skins and seeds of red grapes reduce oestrogen levels while raising testosterone in premenopausal women, reducing the risk of breast cancer.

There is a  significantly lower risk of dementia among regular, moderate red wine drinkers according to research in 14 countries because resveratrol reduces the stickiness of blood platelets, which helps keep the blood vessels open and flexible, maintaining a good blood supply to the brain.

The Journal of Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment has reported that moderate red wine drinkers had a 23 percent lower risk of developing dementia compared to people who rarely or never red wine.

None of this would suit Nanny Sally’s position. Perhaps she needs to understand that life is more about enjoyment than  endurance. If she wants a crusade to help her into her peerage, perhaps she should concentrate more on the real drinking hazard; soft drinks that carry levels of sugar which are a  danger to the health not only of adults who have life-style choices but on children who are the victims of blanket advertising by Coke, Pepsi and the others.

And to bear in mind the old adage. ‘An alcoholic is one who drinks more than his doctor’

“I know a lot more old drunks than old doctors.”

~ Joe E. Lewis

Robin Mitchinson is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. A former barrister, living in the Isle of Man, he is an international public management specialist with almost two decades of experience in institutional development, decentralisation and democratisation processes. He has advised governments and major international institutions across the world

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