back to article Have YOU had your breakfast pint? Boffins confirm cheeky daily tipple is good for you

A major study of Americans has punched another hole in the official British government medical advice that there's no "safe level" of drinking. The cohort study of around 100,000 individuals found that infrequent drinkers and teetotallers had an increased risk of mortality. "Combined risk of cancer or death was lowest in …

  1. jake Silver badge
    Pint

    Interesting.

    Looks like the "hazard rate" isn't really all that high, even if you're necking 7 pints per day!

    No, I'm not planning on making up for lost time ;-)

    1. wolfetone Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Interesting.

      "No, I'm not planning on making up for lost time ;-)"

      Suit yourself, but I intend to!

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Interesting.

        looks like the magic number is around 4. Good to know. Anything between 1 and 4 is a "net win". less than 1, it's a little 'iffy'. Better have at least one a day.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interesting.

      Those necking 20+ a day were not available for the testing...

      As always, taking the bias out is near impossible when dealing with people.

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Interesting.

        "Combined risk of cancer or death was lowest in light drinkers consuming less than 1 drink every day, rather than drinkers with higher intakes," researchers found.

        By "light drinkers" I presume you mean drinkers of Budwater?

      2. Mycho Silver badge

        Re: Interesting.

        As always, taking the bias out is near impossible when dealing with people.

        Don't forget to allow for under-reporting. For reference, a reported 45% of British alcohol sales are consumed.

      3. EastFinchleyite
        Happy

        Re: Interesting.

        "Those necking 20+ a day were not available for the testing..."

        Yeh, I was busy....

    3. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
      Pint

      Interesting? Scary!

      On the contrary. If you consume 4 alcoholic drinks per day, the chance that you will eventually die (from cancer, mortality or whatever) becomes a whopping 1.00, or 100 % certainty.

      But then, drinking no liquieds at all may kill you faster.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Interesting? Scary!

        If you consume 4 alcoholic drinks per day, the chance that you will eventually die (from cancer, mortality or whatever) becomes a whopping 1.00, or 100 % certainty.

        Actually, drinking is irrelevant. Everyone dies. No one gets out alive.

  2. Sykowasp

    What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

    What is a drink? Why can't they use units like every other sane study?

    I'm going to assume it's a British Imperial pint of a DIPA such as https://gipsyhillbrew.com/beers/hepcat-hepcat/

    That is about 4 units.

    So I need to drink 8 to 12 units a day to improve my health. Maybe I'll skip a day here and there, and move the units to another day, I'm sure that is recommended too.

    1. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

      Until we know more it's best to assume that a 'drink' is any amount you can hold in one hand.

      1. Alister Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

        any amount you can hold in one hand.

        So, a 5 litre keg should be fine...

        1. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
          Headmaster

          Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

          If you mean the Unites States, they measure milk in gallons. South-America uses litres.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

        So I can safely have 3 bottles of vodka every day and still not increase the risk on my health?

        1. lglethal Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

          "So I can safely have 3 bottles of vodka every day and still not increase the risk on my health?"

          Yes, but only if your russian...

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

            Yes, but only if your russian...

            If you're Russian your average life expectancy is already nine years behind that of the average overweight, pesticide-ridden, environmentally-poisoned, healthcare-deprived American anyway, so hitting the vodka may be one of the few things in life you can genuinely look forward to.

          2. Nolveys Silver badge

            Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

            Yes, but only if your russian...

            I'm in no hurry.

          3. macjules Silver badge

            Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

            "Yes, but only if your russian..."

            What if you drink slowly?

          4. the Jim bloke Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

            ..only if your russian.. ? .. does what ?

            What exactly are we talking about your russian doing?, and how did you come to possess a russian..

            This would be a different situation if you ARE Russian, but that involves a somewhat different wording..

      3. Sideways

        Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

        "Until we know more it's best to assume that a 'drink' is any amount you can hold in one hand."

        So i can quite happily consume a half pint of Tactical nuclear penguin every morning?

        Excellent, should make the drive into work interesting...if i can find the car that is.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

      Probably US sized Pints of Bud Light which is as close to gnat's piss as I've ever seen.

      Now if the study used 6X, T.E.A. or even Broadside I might be more inclined to believe it.

      speaking of T.E.A., memo to self to pop into the Brewery Shop on my way home tonight for some although the Surrey Nirvana is good on hot days.

      1. OldTM

        Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

        Ah The Hogs Back Brewery, good idea I've been meaning to try the Farnham White!

        1. Mycho Silver badge

          Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

          Actually the link does give the amount, but in strange US units. It seems like 30 drinks worth of wine is enough to crush an australian beer can according to the reg converter. Just over 140ml per drink.

          1. Marshalltown

            Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

            A standard drink made with hard alky served in a bar is 120 ml. Another way to see it is that a US "standard" drink contains 14 grams of pure alcohol. Standard beer serving is 12 fl oz (US) at 5%. Wine standard is five ounces at 12% ABV, and 1.5 ounces distilled booze at 80 proof (40% ABV).

          2. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

            Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

            >Actually the link does give the amount, but in strange US units. It seems like 30 drinks worth of wine is enough to crush an australian beer can according to the reg converter. Just over 140ml per drink.

            If that's "standard" wine, then 1 drink per this study is ~1.5 units.

            100ml of "standard" wine = 1 unit of alcohol (10gm or ~14ml)

            1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

              Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

              D'oh! That last parentheses should read: "10ml or ~7.89gm". As implied by the immediately-preceding...

        2. Qwelak
          Pint

          Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

          Ironic, we've just booked a dept tour of the hogs Back brewery

          Personally I always wanted to invite certain members of staff there and see if they really can organise a piss up.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

      What is a drink?

      Depends on the beverage. A beer.. 16 oz. "Hard liquor".. depends on the type and what is mixed into it. Wine.. a 12 oz. glass. Now these may and will vary depending on where one is in the States, who's pouring or mixing the drink, etc. Beer is iffy due to different size cans/bottles, and even mugs. There is no standard so 1 drink is still vague.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

        "There is no standard so 1 drink is still vague."

        To say nothing of the fact that alcohol, the substance that the teetotalers are concerned[0] about, varies from around 2% up to over 50% in drinks that are still called "beer" or "wine".

        [0] For values of "concern" that equal "somebody, somewhere, is enjoying themselves and we can't have that!".

    4. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

      Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

      >What is a drink? Why can't they use units like every other sane study?

      >I'm going to assume it's a British Imperial pint of a DIPA such as https://gipsyhillbrew.com/beers/hepcat-hepcat/

      >That is about 4 units.

      >So I need to drink 8 to 12 units a day to improve my health.

      Actually, it's 6.

      That's the units/day that hits peak longevity. But you can have up to 13/day before you regress again to teetotaller level. See my comment below.

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: What measure of 'drink' did these Americans use?

      "What is a drink? Why can't they use units like every other sane study?"

      According to a blood alcohol chart that I found online, "one drink" is "1.25 oz. of 80 proof liquor, 12 oz. of beer, or 5 oz. of table wine." So not quite 1 shot (1.5oz) of distilled liquor, a bit less than a pint of ale.

      YMMV based on lots of things. These are units made up by the bunch that created blood alcohol charts for DUI arrests and DMV regs and things like that.

  3. Locky Silver badge
    Pint

    I'm not sure I trust health advice from Sally Hawkins

    She seems to approve of sleeping with fish and having bears live in your house. A beer seems safer than those

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: I'm not sure I trust health advice from Sally Hawkins

      IIRC 'sleeping with the fishes" didn't work too well with Luca Brasi in The Godfather.

    2. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

      Re: I'm not sure I trust health advice from Sally Hawkins

      >She seems to approve of [...] having bears live in your house.

      She meant to say "beers".

  4. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    "...increased risk of mortality.."

    The risk of mortality, whether you drink or not, is 1.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: "...increased risk of mortality.."

      Life is a sexually transmitted disease and always fatal.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: "...increased risk of mortality.."

        Observed death rate is c.93%.

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Since when correlation is causality??

    1. adnim Silver badge

      Implied causality

      Implied causality kind of justifies the research and lends an appearance of usefulness to the results.

      Otherwise the research just confirms what most people would consider obvious.

  6. ArrZarr Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "...an increased risk of mortality."

    Now, I don't know about you, but I would argue that the biggest risk of mortality is being alive in the first place.

    Do scientific studies about healthy living really feel that they need to hide death behind an euphemism?

  7. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Lite drinking?

    Not that american piss - I'd rather die now.

  8. David Roberts Silver badge
    Pint

    Interesting curve and infrequent drinkers.

    Well, it looks as though your best all round bet might be to have a drink roughly every other day. Which is close to infrequent drinking by my rules.

    Better news is that around 5 drinks a day doesn't seem to increase your risk.

    .

    .

    .

    As it's Friday it is time to channel (modify) a bit of Morecambe and Wise.

    .

    How often do you go to the pub for a drink?

    .

    Infrequently.

    .

    Is that one word or two?

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    Oh, go on, since it is Friday.

    After reading this report I won't be drinking any more.

    Then again I won't be drinking any less.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interesting curve and infrequent drinkers.

      Are some of the infrequent drinkers because they cannot drink due to other fatal illnesses?

      Without knowing how this study is balanced against other external factors, it may as well be testing which colour gummy bear is more dangerous.

      1. AndrewKun

        Re: Interesting curve and infrequent drinkers.

        The study used lifetime intakes, based on intakes at various ages. This means that people who drank heavily then quit due to illness would still have their intakes recorded and are unlikely to be in the infrequent drink category unless they quit very young.

      2. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Interesting curve and infrequent drinkers.

        Definitely the sugar free ones.

  9. JakeMS

    Well I'm safe..

    I usually drink once a week to kill off the weeks stress, usually necking (over the course of the night) a single bottle of neat rum (no silly coke or ice added, just straight up 40% Vol Rum).

    Looks like I'm still within my two a day! I never open a second bottle!

    The advantage is it only makes me tipsy and I don't end up overly drunk, just enough to relax, I knew I was doing something right!

    1. UncleNick

      Re: Well I'm safe..

      Chinny.

      Reckon.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Well I'm safe..

      Interestingly 'neat' spirits is absorbed into the system more slowly that the optimum alcohol strength of 20% ( ie half diluted standard UK whisky). I have heard if you drink spirits neat then the stomach in some people can produce an enzyme that breaks down the alcohol so in some ways its better to have the odd glass of water to get the full benefit.

      It always used to baffle me how I could sit down and neck a bottle of spirits and yet a lot less alcohol in the form of beer had a far more noticeable effect.

  10. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    This is not good news

    The NHS budget is already badly over-stretched. Now doctors will be asked to prescribe a daily pint or two.

    Anyone remember the old Milk Marketing Board and "Drinka Pinta Milka Day"? (And that was before the days of semi-skimmed)

    Time for a new campaign "Drinka Pinta FirklestonesOldSkullcrackera Day"

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: This is not good news

      "Time for a new campaign "Drinka Pinta FirklestonesOldSkullcrackera Day""

      May I have a tee-shirt to that effect?

      Ta!

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: This is not good news

      Now doctors will be asked to prescribe a daily pint or two.

      Unfortunately the Doc may prescribe the Old Firklestones at NHS price of £20/pint, but the pub will be allowed to replace it with a tasteless fizzy yellow generic and will still charge the NHS £10/pint for that.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: This is not good news

      Here in the States, go for "Olde FrothingSlosh...the pale, stale ale with the foam on the bottom."

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: This is not good news

      "The NHS budget is already badly over-stretched. Now doctors will be asked to prescribe a daily pint or two."

      I can remember my granddad being in hospital when I was a kid and he was getting a bottle of stout every day. Maybe he was kidding me that is was part of his treatment, but I believed him when I was a 7yo.

  11. Trumpet Winsock
    Pint

    Midsummer Dream

    I usually destress by going for a run. I also enjoy a Pint or several. Those wonderful people at Axe Valley Runners used to put on the ideal event, the " Midsummer Dream ( in search of the uncarved block ) "

    The run evolved over the years but always started outside the Hook and Parrot.

    14 or 16 miles of gloriously scenic cross country running, six pubs en route with a Pint quaffed in each.

    Halfway point was at a Village Hall where a full Cream Tea was laid on.

    It was a circular route so you could choose which direction to run, the last ( or first ) Pub held a music / beer festival over the same weekend, many never made it further.

    Only an hour or so until Beer O'clock, today I'll raise a toast to the folk at Axe Vally runners.

  12. chivo243 Silver badge
    Pint

    A breakfast pint?

    Whoa nelly... If I had one at breakfast at my age, the day would be shot. The days of playing Jim Morrison are over. However, I can usually enjoy one around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, that sets the tone for the evening nicely!

    Pint icon as it's the only one that works in this article ;-}

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: A breakfast pint?

      If I start drinking before about 5 then it'll end up being an early night for me. It's terrible, I'm not even 40 yet and my drinking levels are below when I started :(

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: A breakfast pint?

        AM or PM?

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: A breakfast pint?

      The days of playing Jim Morrison are over.

      If you can't even manage to hit the Play button on your Doors collection then you must be really pissed!

    3. Tikimon Silver badge

      Re: A breakfast pint?

      WARNING: Barely relevant story follows on how I was drunk by 9 AM once.

      Went camping and arrived in the park around 0200 (long drive). One of our number was a little noisy setting up and a disgruntled sleeper appeared in the door of a nearby tent grumping for some quiet. Fully justified, I might add.

      Next morning I was first awake, greeted the morning and surrounding mountains with coffee and a smile. Also with a little pipe and some herbal goodness (ahem). So just then that tent opens and a guy climbs out. We both immediately start profusely apologizing to each other! He's clearly a really nice guy and after a minute of this I offer the pipe and say "Hey, you want a hit?" He raises his thermos and says "You want some White Russian?" He had a quart of cold mixed drink in there, and we had a grand time.

      So by 0900 we were both pretty trashed, inviting the rest of our crews to join us as they arose. Then we all went for some lunch, they were great guys. So it's not always a bad thing to be drinking early in the morning. You might meet some nice folks.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: A breakfast pint?

        Even the usually chemically deluded Freak Brothers knew that smoking grass and drinking is like pissing into the wind.

  13. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Just what we all thought

    I'll drink to that!

  14. placeboscotsman

    Causation?

    I just don't trust these type of studies, they always come out looking the same.

    "A moderate amount of X gives improved health and a longer life"

    Abstinence does not show as good an ability to self-regulate as a measured and moderate usage, especially if it is something loans itself all too easily to overindulgence.

  15. Blockchain commentard Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Was that graph sponsored by Nike? Just Do It !!!!

    1. AndrewKun

      Sadly not. I'll ask them next time.

  16. defiler Silver badge

    alcohol consumption is declining in the UK, and fastest among Millennials

    That's because they seem to reckon a pint of dry hops constitutes "craft beer" and some sort of ideal that brewers should aim for. And it's generally awful.

    I'm not against a decent beer, and I've enjoyed the local brew in many a CAMRA-registered pub, but some of the crap that seems to be fashionable these days... At some point you have to sit back and think "I'd be better with a Tennents."

    1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge
      Facepalm

      Hear hear

      I spent 20yrs in the UK and now back in Oz it seems that "craft" beer is the shnizzle. Trouble is, "craft" seems to have turned into "vomit hops into it".

      As such, some beers have my face turning inside out on first sip, and a couple give me violent uncurable skull-cracking pseudo-hangovers after only 3 pints. Even where they taste lovely, like Stone & Wood's's.

      Death to "galaxy" hops.

    2. Anonymous C0ward

      What's the difference between

      "craft beer" and "real ale"? Seems like "real ale" is drunk by old guys with beards, and "craft beer" is drunk by young guys with beards.

  17. Patrician

    "I'd be better with a Tennents."

    Erm, no; just no!

  18. src

    Oblig

    "Never tell me the odds."

  19. Norman Nescio Silver badge

    Original Report is here:

    It is published in an open-access journal, PLOS Medicine, which is an open-access journal. El Reg could have provided a direct link in the article.

    About PLOS Medicine: http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/s/journal-information

    PLOS Medicine main page: http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/

    PLOS Medicine page describing article: http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002585

    Direct link to article: http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002585&type=printable

    The article does not define what a 'drink' is, and neither do the UK government low risk drinking guidelines, but from the UK Government guildelines, you can work out that one 'unit' is 10 millilitres of pure ethanol (or about 7.9 g), and I presume that is the amount of ethanol in one 'drink' in the article.

    As the Wikipedia article on 'Unit of alcohol' points out, the 'standard drink' varies from country to country, so it is a pity that the article does not make clear what measure it is using. The standard drink in the USA is 17.7 millilitres of ethanol ( about 17.7 g ), so it is a significant difference. The lead author is Andrew T. Kunzmann, Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, so I assume the British definition is used but as other authors are based in the USA, I'm not completely sure.

    1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Re: Original Report is here:

      Andrew Kunzmann was kind enough to respond to an email enquiry about the definition of 'a drink'

      The definition of a drink is explained in the methods section of the paper:

      "The DHQ assessed historical drinking by inquiring about the amount of beer (12 ounce bottles or cans: 1 U.S. Department of Agriculture My Pyramid cup equivalent [17]), wine (5 ounce glasses: 1 cup equivalent), and liquor (1.5 ounce shots, including mixed drinks: 1 cup equivalent)"

      These are equivalent to 14 grams of alcohol or 1.75 units. A UK pint contains slightly more.

      We hoped that using drinks, which conveys an easier to understand message than units, as units are largely incomprehensible to lay readers and international audiences.

      Hope that helps, and feel free to share this!

      Since the surveyed group were American, that means the American definition of a 'standard drink' was used, which is significantly more than a UK 'unit'.

      A special thank-you to Andrew Kunzmann for a clear reply, rather than (justly deserved) RTFA. The sender of the email is suitably embarrassed in having it publicly shown that the the article wasn't read closely enough.

      1. Cavehomme_ Bronze badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Original Report is here:

        Well done, thanks!

      2. Shooter

        Re: Original Report is here:

        That corresponds pretty well with what I remember being taught in my driving classes way back in the mid-1970s, as a rough and ready estimate for when you would be approaching the legal limit for DWI:

        One "drink" = 1 beer = 1 glass of wine = 1 shot/mixed drink. One drink per hour per 160 pounds of body weight would result in a blood alcohol content just about at the legal limit.

        That's probably changed a little now, as current BAC limit is 0.08%, while back then I think it was 0.10%.

        Still better off not drinking at all if you intend to drive.

        1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

          Re: Original Report is here:

          Here in Oz 20-30yrs-ago we got it chapter and verse, right down to being taught in school how to calculate your drunkenness re driving. Which I've subsequently checked into in detail and verified. And what you were taught was wrong.

          The human liver on average processes 1 unit alcohol per hour.

          1 unit of alcohol lifts BAC (blood alcohol concentration) by 0.015. That is: necking 10ml neat alcohol increases BAC by 0.015.

          Your liver will reduce your BAC by 0.015 per hour.

          The UK limit remains the original one insisted on by the medical profession in the 30s. (I discovered why they insisted on that limit, myself, when participating in a drink driving research project many years ago. Most people are fine-ish way past that, but a significant subset of people, about 20%, go to pieces catastrophically. Bang on 0.08 -- strongly contradicting the modern aussie limit reduction to 0.05 (goldplating...). The limit is there to protect against this subset.) To be clear: the UK limit is and has always been 0.08. And that limit --and ONLY that limit-- is based on fundamental real-world human characteristics.

          This means an average weight+health male can drink 5 units and be just under the limit. That's about 2 heavy pints. After that: 1 pint per hour will keep you there.

          That's also 2 large wines (250ml x 2) then, traditionally, 1 small wine (100ml) per hour, although that rate will tip you over due to modern wine being stronger than when the "standard" wine measure was created (all the standard measures are supposed to come to 1 unit of alcohol).

          Women average lighter plus higher fat content, so the numbers are lower re intake, but their liver processes about the same amount/rate.

          Interestingly, in our research group, everyone got _better_ at all the coordination/driving etc. tests up till about 0.06-0.08.

          Interestingly, what the aussies are NOW being taught is as wrong as what you were taught.

  20. Jason Hindle

    I have a lot of time for Public Health England, and the NHS

    In some ways they're the greatest users of big data. However, I do sometimes get the impression the fanatics are running the asylum. Who remembers the pronouncement of ten a day (which surely would have turned us all Vegan)?

  21. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Health Lobby

    Just my impression, but it does some times appear that the health promotion profession attracts the type of Modern Puritan that think anything enjoyable must be bad for you. Often, of course it is ( think smoking). And to excess usually is. But demonising of simple pleasures seems to be a reflex for these people. At its worst that actually weakens their influence, too.

    1. AndrewKun

      Re: Health Lobby

      Many of us have had relatives who were ill and want to see less families have to go through it. If anything this study should be reassuring for light drinkers, and as a source of inspiration for heavier drinkers who want to cut down but not quit completely. For the heavier drinkers that don't care about the health effects, they will ignore it anyway and are perfectly free to make their own choices.

  22. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    ...More than 80 previous studies have found that risk follows a J-Curve, where moderate consumption rewards drinkers with a lower risk ...

    So, incidentally, does the risk from ionising radiation. A small but 'greater than safety limits' amount appears to be good for you. Plants raised in a zero-radiation environment grow significantly worse than those in a radiation environment.

    I wouldn't be surprised to find that the embarrassing statistical 'glitch' of smokers surviving illnesses better than non-smokers was associated with such a curve.

    Of course, the anti-activists are never going to admit this....

    1. Swarthy Silver badge
      Coat

      I would imagine that plants in a zero-radiation environment would grow poorly, the poor dears do need radiant light to grow, after all.

  23. TimMaher

    Doctor, doctor

    I’m sorry Mister Name but you will have to give up sex, smoking and drinking.

    Will I live longer doctor?

    No. But it will feel like it.

    Da daaah!

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: Doctor, doctor

      Quoted by many (but the one I remember is Billy Connolly)...

      There is no pleasure so guilty that it is worth giving up for an extra 6 years in a Nursing Home

      1. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Doctor, doctor

        There is no pleasure so guilty that it is worth giving up for an extra 6 years in a Nursing Home

        Not an extra six... you will just get there younger.

  24. AndrewKun

    The definition of a drink is described in the methods "The DHQ assessed historical drinking by inquiring about the amount of beer (12 ounce bottles or cans: 1 U.S. Department of Agriculture My Pyramid cup equivalent [17]), wine (5 ounce glasses: 1 cup equivalent), and liquor (1.5 ounce shots, including mixed drinks: 1 cup equivalent) the participant consumed per week". This is a standard US drink measure, which reflects 14 grams of ethanol or 1.75 units. This is roughly equivalent to most cans of lager in the UK or small glass of wine (125ml). UK pints will have slightly more units but the difference in risk between 6 cans and 6 pints will be minor enough to not fret about (especially as there will be some degree of underreporting, which allows for slightly larger drinks to be considered low risk). Understanding 7 drinks requires less mental arithmetic than 12/14 units, as units are one of the least well understood terms, particularly for international audiences.

  25. ShowEvidenceThenObject
    Pint

    Quote opportunities, ahoy

    "This evidence should not be taken to support a protective effect of light drinking."

    Hah. Too late.

  26. Tim Worstal

    This has all been known for decades

    "A major study of Americans has punched another hole in the official British government medical advice that there's no "safe level" of drinking.

    The cohort study of around 100,000 individuals found that infrequent drinkers and teetotallers had an increased risk of mortality."

    That official advice reached its conclusion by the interesting tactic of not recording the outcome for teetotallers at all. Thus only showing the increasing risk from increasing consumption and neatly excising the higher risk of no consumption.

    No, really, that is what they did. The bastards.

    1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

      Re: This has all been known for decades

      Spot on. See my comment below for the actual comparo, via much larger longer research projects undertaken before the psycho PC thing really got the bit between its teeth. Summary: max lifespan at 6 units/day.

      Also, Tim: welcome back! We've missed you.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    These studies are ridiculous regardless of the directionality of the effect (and if you don't like this one, just wait until next week and another will contradict it). They are purely correlative with no attempt to control for confounding variables. Junk science.

    1. AndrewKun

      Interesting critique...that could have. been avoided by 2 minutes of skim reading. The results accounted for age, sex, race, smoking status, BMI, educational attainment and a whole range of nutritional factors. Obviously other factors could play a role but are unlikely to completely change the overall picture that light drinking seems ok and heavy drinking doesn't.

      1. Potemkine! Silver badge

        The results accounted for age, sex, race, smoking status, BMI, educational attainment and a whole range of nutritional factors.

        What about location (through exposure to pollution or environmental hazards), heredity, physical activity, jobs ? All of these are known to be factors for cancer.

        1. jake Silver badge

          To say nothing of the fact that ...

          ... BMI is a meaningless measurement.

  28. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Boffin

    Comparative Risk

    I'd like to see the corresponding "hazard rates" for other activities on the same axis as the alcohol-related risk.

    E.g. driving, rock climbing, crossing the road, ordering a phall from an unfamiliar Indian restaurant etc....

  29. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Pint

    Lead by example

    A major study of Americans has punched another hole in the official British government medical advice that there's no "safe level" of drinking.

    HM Government could lead by example and ban alcohol from all those subsidised bars and restaurants at Westminster and make the whole place tee-total

  30. David 45

    A time and a place....................

    Think I draw the line at Stella Artois for breakfast! Might be interesting on cornflakes instead of milk, I suppose

  31. fobobob
    Pint

    Not enough beer icons in the comments... I'll have one as well.

  32. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Pint

    LESTER

    This means more work for LESTER. Time to upgrade already with higher capacity batteries?

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/08/lester_eyes_locomotion/

  33. Snowy
    Facepalm

    Junk

    If you can not answer why doing something is good or bad for you it junk science!

    Questionnaires Science can give an idea of where to look for answer it does not in of itself answer any. Remember the simple correlation is not causation!

  34. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

    6 units/day = Max. Longevity. 13 == teetotaller longevity.

    If you look at the old research, done before the PC-hysteria was anywhere near its current mouth-foaming eye-swivelling levels, it was peculiar for medical research for its startling consistency between studies and the uniformity and narrow confidence intervals of its results. (Med.research is normally marked by yooooj confidence intervals/variability.)

    Basically, life-expectancy increases up until 6 units/day, then declines again until it re-reaches teetotallers' lifespans at 13 units/day.

    Cardiovascular problems are far and away the greatest killer, and alcohol seems to reduce them.

    1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Re: 6 units/day = Max. Longevity. 13 == teetotaller longevity.

      I'd love to see some references: not that I disbelieve you, but I'd like to be able to point other people at that research.

      This study uses American 'standard drinks', which are roughly 77% more than the UK unit of 10 ml ethanol. The 'J'-curve in the article bottoms out at roughly half a US 'standard drink' per day, or one UK unit per day, which is quite a difference compared to the figure you state: however, one of the things that is difficult to take account of is significant under-reporting of consumption. While a reporting rate of 16% of actual consumption would be surprising, I would expect the effect under-reporting would be to shift the bottom of the 'J'-curve to the right.

      As for under-reporting: the problem is well known - for example, if you total up how much alcohol is sold in an area, and survey the inhabitants for their drinking habits, you can get discrepancies of around 50% of the total sold. Efforts are being made to be able to allow for under-reporting, or mitigate it by using better survey techniques. E.g, a smartphone app to allow a subject to report consumption at the time of consumption; and population measures looking at blood biomarkers that vary according to alcohol consumption - there's an instructive paper comparing Finns and Russians.

      When Self-Reporting, People Underestimate Alcohol Consumption by Nearly 50 Percent

      The Validity of Self‐Reported Alcohol Consumption and Alcohol Problems: A Literature Review

      Recent reports of consumption are validated more easily than drinking patterns measured in drinking practices surveys (as evidenced by coverage rates of surveys to sales statistics ranging from 40‐60%).

      “I Have No Clue What I Drunk Last Night” Using Smartphone Technology to Compare In-Vivo and Retrospective Self-Reports of Alcohol Consumption

      Participants reported consuming more alcoholic drinks during real-time assessment than retrospectively. For daily accounts a higher number of drinks consumed in real-time was related to a higher discrepancy between real-time and retrospective accounts. This effect was found across all drink types but was not shaped by social and environmental contexts.

      Summary here: http://www.academicwino.com/2015/06/self-reporting-alcohol-consumption-app.html/

      Self-reported alcohol consumption and association to carbohydrate-deficient transferrin and gamma-glutamyltransferase in a random sample of the general population in the Republic of Karelia, Russia and in North Karelia, Finland

      In RUS, elevated CDT values were observed in 36.6% of the men and 17.6% of the women. In FIN, the respective rates were 9.6% and 9.4%, which are similar to average European rates. The prevalence of elevated CDT values seen in RUS is the highest prevalence ever reported in general population surveys. However, the self-reported alcohol consumption was similar in the two regions. These results suggest that alcohol consumption especially in Russia may not be reliably estimated by self-reporting...

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: 6 units/day = Max. Longevity. 13 == teetotaller longevity.

        Reader's Digest Condensed version of Norman Nescio's post:

        People lie about their boozing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 6 units/day = Max. Longevity. 13 == teetotaller longevity.

      Alcohol may reduce those problems, but there are a lot of other ingredients (like sugar) in the drink or what you mix with it. So I'd guess at neat spirits being better than stuff like WKD.

      1. Mycho Silver badge

        Re: 6 units/day = Max. Longevity. 13 == teetotaller longevity.

        I saw a report that attributed under-reporting to special events. People drink much more at weddings, funerals and so on but when asked about typical drinking they ignore that. They also ignore the odd low drinking week too but how many of them do most people have?

        Personally whenever I signed up with a doctor and they asked me how much I drank in a typical week I replied that there was no such thing as a typical week where I'm concerned. They accepted that.

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