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Government Drinking Guidelines

I thought it was suicide.

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Definitely suicide. Though drinking often features as one of the symptoms and/or ways to manage and cope with difficult emotions.

From the Guardian this morning ;
Alcohol, says their report published in the Lancet medical journal, led to 2.8 million deaths in 2016. It was the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability in the 15 to 49 age group, accounting for 20% of deaths

And later
In younger people globally the biggest causes of death linked to alcohol were tuberculosis (1.4% of deaths), road injuries (1.2%), and self-harm (1.1%).

Maybe it is suicide, which I assume is labelled “self harm” here, in the UK. The others maybe lesser factors here.

But I notice only 3.7% listed in the causes, but 20% as a total above. Emm, I mistrust these stats.

Sorry, I was thinking of the UK - those look like global numbers/causes.

Either way, it’s all very sad and preventable.

Russ - you may find it helpful to take a look at this Public Health England report chapter -

Major causes of death

Suicide is the biggest killer of young men from 5-50 (and young women from 5-35). Alcohol and drug use is the biggest risk factor for deaths in the 15-50 age group generally, whereas it is the lowest classified behavioural risk factor for the population as a whole. Dietary risks, lack of physical exercise and tobacco smoking risks substantially exceed the alcohol/drugs risk generally.

(Principal risk factors and principal causes of death are of course two different concepts)


I just wanted to post up 2 links below for anyone who might be reading this and feel they might need help about this topic, but don’t want to say anything - or indeed any non member who might have come across this article and who might be affected.



This is a great shout, @M1tch! My only caveat is that there is a degree of hypocrisy about the fact that the Drinkaware organisation is largely funded by the Drinks industry. There’s a similar initiative within the gambling industry (if that is, indeed, the right word for them), whereby they fund counselling for people affected by gambling. There’s something just a little bit too post-modern about this arrangement.
Still, whatever helps people - I’m all for it!

It has been a very interesting thread and I add a link to ONS website showing effects over the years of nanny in health and others, such as industrial, car manufacturing and legislation, air pollution, housing, immunisation and infection prevention/treatment.
Most of our longevity (or not) over the last 100 years is due to not health fixing things, but prevention. The NHS was created to fix things when broken/sick and now that has to include prevention even more, and nanny or no nanny, that’s just how it is, unless we see ourselves heading down the US corporate way.
How the NHS/we/politicians do that, will be the next interesting bit.
For those that like the lighter side of life/health, I strongly recommend Bill Hicks, US comedian, on being a committed smoker, to giving up (amongst many other very funny things).
He died of an MI after having his bypass at an early age, but, as some have said on the thread already, the plural of anecdote ain’t data.


We love Bill Hicks! Though had to block our ears from time to time - the guy didn’t mince his words :wink: But he was a great comedian.
And your assessment re prevention is spot on.
God forbid that we ever go down the American way… :scream:


This has been such a fascinating discussion I haven’t wanted to chip in because I’ve been having too much fun reading your insightful debate. Some really good resources have been shared which I’m looking forward to reading in more detail - and I’m also looking forward to reading this, which was recommended by a few people on Twitter a while back and I think will be even more interesting after reading this discussion:

If anyone else has read it, let me know! I think it’s important for people in the drinks industry to read widely about this, to remind us of our own responsibility.

It’s very frustrating; I’m generally very happy with my one small glass a night (a bottle generally goes for 6-7 of those glasses) but I’m always eager to move on to try the next bottle from the rack and 6-7 days is a long time to wait! And, before it is suggested, there just isn’t the choice in half bottles!

The picking up the tab meme opens a can of worms re health care that no one should go into unless they wish to expose all the facts, I’m not even prepared to start the ball rolling on this one, but if you start picking on just one area of abuse then you have to accept criticism on all the others however unpalatable they might be to certain mindsets.

There was a mention above of Spiegelhalter’s comments, but here is the link: https://medium.com/wintoncentre/the-risks-of-alcohol-again-2ae8cb006a4a


I will not be rolling that ball either, just noting that there are very significant costs associated with people inflicting self harm in lots of different ways…and often repeatedly.

I completely agree with various comments that joined up prevention in health is a good, and cost effective idea.

However, I stick by my original comments that the conclusions from some of these studies appear questionable, not least on statistical significance. The concept of the individual’s utility of using alcohol in moderation also seems to be ignored - though not by Spiegelhalter.

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It was not a comment on what you said personnaly but a comment on the whole of the NHS well beyond the self inflicting area.

Thanks for the link @SPmember. That was a very interesting read.

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You can take this with a pinch of salt BUT this is how the ‘5 a day’ figure for eating Fruit & Veg came about:

A friend of mine met the (then) chairwoman of the committee, and over dinner it emerged that the ‘5 a day’ figure was pretty much an educated guess. The research was insufficient to give a precise figure, and in anyway it depends upon personal health and circumstances.

Under pressure to give at least SOME guidelines… the magic number appeared. Because ‘5’ is a better sounding figure than 4 (or 6). And the number stuck

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Still with the pinches of salt: the important question is whether it is only young and fruity wines which count…

indeed they are the only ones that count. Everyone knows old and expensive wines arent alcohol per se


@lapin_rouge indeed - I recall the alcohol guidelines came in to existence in 1987 (UK) in a similarly precisely calculated way, too. Or rather, an educated guess of a number which ‘feels reasonable’. Naturally enough, no successive government has wanted to push those higher.

What’s surely important is not the level at which there is ‘no risk’ (i.e. ‘there’s no safe level’…), but the level at which any effect is really relevant. There’s no such thing in any activity as ‘no risk’, so the recommendation to not drink can be quite happily ignored along with any recommendation to not leave the house to mitigate the risk of being hit by a bus. The point, surely, is the level where a risk of any statistical significance or meaning rears its head, and with alcohol, this is different for individuals. I suspect most ‘users’ are quiet well aware where this balance tips for them, and sometimes they will deliberately head to one side or the other of that point. That’s their (our) choice, and provided that decision doesn’t impact on others, I, at least, would prefer it remains our individual decision to make.