As new government guidelines prescribe a drug for ‘mild alcoholics’, The Telegraph took a look at some conflicting research we have had about alcohol over the past few years.
The new drug is to be prescribed for “mild alcoholics” who drink two glasses of wine a night, as part of an attempt by the national health watchdog Nice to tackle alcohol abuse. Men drinking three pints of beer and women drinking two large glasses of wine per night and who do not cut down within two weeks should be prescribed a drug called nalmefene, Nice has said.
But too some people, wine with dinner each night can be something they have come to regard as perfectly permissible particularly after reading some research about the health benefits of alcohol. The Telegraph’s article explores the pro’s and cons on this often confusing subject.
Positive results included:
1. Alcohol can help heart attack victims
In March 2012, an American study showed that alcohol can help heart attack victims live longer. Two alcoholic drinks a day over a long period gave attack survivors a 42 per cent lower risk of dying from heart disease than non-drinkers, the research found. Their risk of death from any cause was reduced by 14 per cent.
2. Alcohol is good for relieving stress
A survey conducted back in 2004 revealed that 21 per cent of men and 14 per cent of women said that alcohol was good for relieving stress. The Mintel survey also showed that it is a popularly held belief that drinking alcohol is good for your health.
3. A glass of wine a day while pregnant ‘will not harm your baby’
A glass of wine a day will not harm your baby and may actually be good for a child’s development, researchers from Bristol University found in a study last year. Moderate drinking of between three and seven glasses of alcohol a week does not harm a child’s foetal neurodevelopment, researchers said.
4. Drink every other day to stay healthy
Just last month, the UK government began to promote the “one day on, one day off” rule as part of a new marketing strategy aimed at cutting dangerous levels of alcohol consumption. The new guidelines were drawn up by Public Health England, the government quango charged with promoting healthy living.
Negative results included
1. Even light drinkers risk of heart disease
A study from July 2014 found that light drinkers should reduce their alcohol intake to improve their health. Even light drinkers who get through just six glasses of wine a week should cut their alcohol intake if they wish to reduce their risk of heart disease, according to the paper published in the British Medical Journal.
2. Alcohol increases dementia risk
Earlier this year, new NHS proposals stated that middle-aged people should be told to cut out alcohol to reduce their risk of dementia as part of new health checks from the age of 40. The recommendations said that the current system offering all patients a mid-life MOT at their GP surgery should be expanded to provide millions of adults with advice on protecting themselves from the dementia.
3. Alcohol leads to unhealthy eating
Three drinks pave the way to healthy late night snacks which add thousands of calories on to, according to a survey by YouGov. Researchers pinpointed the ‘tipping point’ at which a drinker’s resolve goes out the window leading to binge eating that can add thousands of calories to their diet.
4. Alcohol may trigger memory problems in old age
Drinking just one or two units a day may be enough to cause memory problems in old age, scientists from Exeter University said in July.Their study found that people with a history of alcohol use disorder, which can include those drinking within recommended limits, are twice as likely to have severe memory problems in subsequent years.
No wonder people are confused – to drink or not to drink – that seems to be the question.
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