UK Says No Amount of Drinking is Safe. Science Says Otherwise.
Millions of people around the globe regularly consume alcohol. Because of its popularity, researchers have spent significant time and money studying the impact various levels of alcohol consumption have on our health. After mountains of research, the general consensus is that while too much drinking is deadly, moderate consumption of alcohol has benefits for many adults.
For many years, government health agencies in Europe and the U.S. gave their citizens that standard advice: Alcohol can be part of a healthy diet in moderation and may have health benefits, but alcohol abuse can cause a host of health problems. Unfortunately, countries are starting to abandon this sensible, science-backed advice for a more prohibitionist outlook.
This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the latest version of its dietary guidelines, advising Americans what to eat and drink. While previous versions of the guidelines emphasized the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption (including a reduced risk of heart disease, the number one killer among American adults), the new version omits such specific references. Instead, the guidelines emphasize the dangers posed by “excessive drinking,” which is now defined as consuming 8 drinks per week for women or 15 drinks per week for men—just one drink per week over the level considered “moderate.”
Today, government health officials in Britain took an even stronger anti-alcohol stance, announcing that they believe no level of alcohol consumption should be considered safe.
While alcohol abuse has long been a problem in the U.K., an overwhelming amount of research shows many adults can safely consume alcohol in moderation. Earlier this year, Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, published an excellent break down on the research supporting the health benefits of moderate consumption of alcohol in The New York Times.
The focus of public health agencies shouldn’t be to scare adults from having a glass of wine or beer with dinner. Responsible adults consuming one or two cocktails with dinner clearly are not the root of the alcohol abuse problem.