The effect of alcohol


”]A bottle of wine and thou... [Ed- surely that's 'a glass' not 'a bottle'?]My few regular readers (hello :-)) may have noticed that I have recently been concerned about the additional risk I am taking on by being officially ‘overweight‘ (BMI = 27). Shifting my BMI involves a good deal of effort and attention to details of my life that I feel to busy to pay attention to at the moment and, in short, I would like to know ‘ Is it worth lowering my BMI to 25?’.

On a  similar theme, I was taken by a recent BBC story about the effects of alcohol. The gist of the story is that a group of Doctors say that:

… if nothing is done, deaths from all alcohol-related causes – including cancers and road accidents – could claim the lives of 250,000 people in England and Wales over the coming two decades

Now that is a lot of people, but on the other hand 20 years is a long time. So the additional deaths amount to 12,500 per year. Again, a large number, even compared to the roughly 500,000 deaths per year in the UK (link to barely comprehensible Statistics Office Data see table D). But of course these people would have died anyway so they are not additional deaths but in fact earlier deaths. And often quite horrific deaths which are expensive to treat. So people drinking too much shorten their own lives, bring suffering on themselves, and bring avoidable costs to us all. And it’s these facts that ought to be the focus of these reports.

However from my personal perspective, I am frustrated that from the data given in the article it is impossible to work out anything meaningful for an individual. Like an answer to the questions:

  • If I have one more glass wine every day, how much am I shortening my life?
  • If I have one less glass wine every day, how much longer might I expect to live?

Now I don’t pretend that these are easy questions to answer, but these are the questions to which I personally would like an answer. And since we all pay the BBC to report and analyse ‘news’, it’s the kind of analysis I would like to read, instead of reading the simple repetition of statements from a press release.


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