and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims. Now there’s a headline that will warm the heart of all heavy drinkers and make us that have taken the abstention route a moment of questioning.
These articles appeared in the Daily Mail and The Independent back in April 2014 but have been doing the rounds again in the last few days. At the time a Guardian piece questioned the validity of the claims.
From The Independent:
Former World Health Organisation alcohol expert Dr Kari Poikolainen has analysed decades of research into the effects of alcohol on the human body, The Daily Mail reports.
His conclusion – drinking is only harmful when you consume more than 13 units a day – that’s four to five pints of beer or more than a bottle of wine – which typically contains around 10 units.
He also believes that drinking more than the current recommended daily intake may in fact be healthier than being a teetotaler.
The weight of the evidence shows moderate drinking is better than abstaining and heavy drinking is worse than abstaining – however the moderate amounts can be higher than the guidelines say,” Dr Poikolainen reportedly told The Mail.
Unfortunately none of the news coverage shared any of the ‘decades of research evidence’ cited so it is difficult to validate or dispute.
So according to Dr Poikolainen drinking between 3 and up to 13 units is not harmful. He doesn’t say whether this applies equally to men or women or whether this is acceptable on a daily basis.
I could list all the documentaries and radio programmes I have shared on this blog where UK medical experts dealing with liver disease have cited the levels of drinking which they consider harmful. It is between 60 and 150 units and over, and my own experience working on an alcoholic liver disease ward backs up their numbers. Dr Poikolainen’s assertions run counter to all of that by saying that 91 units a week is safe.
I’m sorry Dr but until I see the ‘decades of research evidence’ that support these claims then that is all these are – claims. Putting this ‘supposed’ evidence out in the media with no way for us to verify the research’s credibility, validity and the sources of research funding is both irresponsible and dangerous. If I was still drinking I would have grabbed this news and held on to it tight as a way of justifying my own dysfunctional drinking. How many other people out there reading that news story have done the same?
10 days to go