Pass the bottle

Agggh! Stop it! Have mercy! There is a limit to how much information this brain can take, particularly when it doesn’t correspond to the message that went before it. If you call yourself a scientist and do scientific studies and then publish your results, would it be too much to ask that you at least try to correlate those results with someone else? Some other scientist perhaps? Or at least provide a rating of how credible your results are? (Mind you, that hasn’t really worked with the hotel industry, has it?)

Instead, you publish and then before the ink is dry on your paper, some other equally qualified (?) expert says your findings are a load of nonsense. Now, ye can both sit in lab and go back and forth arguing yere respective cases – ye have the facts, the education, and the time to do it. But what of me?

IMG_5324 (600x800)Just when I’ve gotten my head around the ‘fact’ that alcohol is bad for me (yes, I know it makes me do stupid things and that were I to drink excessive amounts regularly, it would fry my liver and it does play havoc with my eyes – I’m not completely stupid), I find out that this might not be the case after all? What am I to think?

This latest report, from a former World Health Organisation alcohol expert says that drinking is only harmful when you consume more than 13 units a day. And there’s only about 10 units in a bottle of wine, ergo a bottle of wine a day would do me no harm. Now, before you get as excited as I did – the report was published in the Daily Mail. Do with that what you may. The think-tank 2020health weighed in, too, saying: ‘This is an unhelpful contribution to the debate. It makes grand claims which we don’t see evidence for. Alcohol is a toxin, the risks outweigh the benefits.’ So there are benefits?

According to the report, moderate drinking is better than abstinence but heavy drinking is worse than abstinence. The question I can’t get out of my head is whether a bottle of wine a day can be construed as moderate? Every day? mmmmm

There is so much conflicting information out there that I’m pulling my hair out in an effort to make sense of it all. For every scientific report in favour of anything, there’s another against. It’s terribly difficult for an undereducated mind to know what to believe. I’m left to interpret what information I have to hand, filtering it through the prism of prior experience and personal knowledge, yet there is always the danger that I’ll choose the wrong interpretation. But by then it’s usually too late to avoid the damage.

Another glass of wine, anyone?






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11 Responses

  1. Whether it’s eggs, coffee or wine, there’s sure to be a study published soon vehemently opposing whatever conclusions today’s research might endorse. Unless you’re like me with alcohol [one is too many, a thousand isn’t enough], being moderate or even occasionally excessive shouldn’t be problematic. I think I’m more likely to fall to Monsanto’s GMO”s or antibiotic laden chicken than I am to the third cup of coffee or the odd scrambled eggs with diced ham and cheese.

      1. What is “moderate”: there is no singular answer. It depends too much on a number of factors and may including (as a short list) your body size, weight, and genetics.

        Many suggestions on consumption limits, on everything from salt to alcohol, are usually conservative to bow to the lowest common denominator and highest risk groups. Which means for some people, that limit is probably correct and life saving, but for others it simply limits their enjoyment of some activity for maybe no good reason.

        And to that, do note, I have a winery. And if everyone here would be suspected to suggest drinking a bottle a day, it certainly might be me as it certainly would increase my sales. But even so I, in all personal ethics and consciousness, would never recommend anyone consume a bottle of wine a day.

        That all being said, in the end, worrying about it all too much maybe will cause more damage than anything else. After all, living is terminal — I do not know anyone who has gotten out of it alive.

  2. When a scientist publishes in an official scientific journal, their work is peer reviewed. That does not mean the publication is not questioned, examined or discussed amongst other scientists. That is the whole point of science — it is a process where decent and lively debate are encouraged. Science is thus rarely there, or even designed, to provide any of use with fixed lines in the sand for daily decision making.

    That being said, I could find no reference to this “latest report” by Dr. Kari Poikolainen at the link your provided. And real scientists (and good journalists) always provide the sources about which they are writing. So what is it exactly: a peer reviewed article published in a scientific journal or something else? I suspect something else: the recently published book “Perfect Drinking and its Enemies” by Dr. Kari Poikolainen. If I am correct in my suspicion, this is less about science than about a for profit document. The more controversial it is the better for the author as it then stirs up lots of PR and probably improves sales. So while it may be “interesting”, I would not hang my hat on it either.

    1. mmmm… I’ve worked on a number for mainstream peer-reviewed journals and wonder just how much reviewing is done. Wouldn’t do anything to restore my faith in what I read.

      1. You worked for a scientific peer-reviewed journals and you wonder how much reviewing was done? Well for starters, “faith” is not part of the process.

        How do I know?

        When I was doing research I was published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. And the pre-publication review process was taken seriously. It could mean publication or not. Typically there are three independent anonymous reviewers (known to the editor but not to the paper’s author). Reviewer comments often resulted in edits being made to a paper as requested by the editor to address the reviewers comments. This process between submission and hopeful acceptance for publication could take months. Some reviewer comments might even cause the editor to reject the paper in that journal (for any number of reasons that may include incomplete citations, disagreement on analysis methods, or the paper (while good) simply is not a proper fit for the specific journal).

        I also have reviewed articles for publication and I always put a great deal of work into reviewing the article for content and quality.

        This process is not without flaws, because we are human, and nothing is perfect. But overall I think it is better than a “article” (without citations) found at an tabloid site.

  3. Yesterday’s comment was before my semi-annual doctors visit. As of this morning my new definition of “moderate” involves substantially less of that which I enjoy [coffee, chocolate, pasta and pizza] and more of that which I can gladly avoid, like exercise and a very low calorie diet. I’m sure I’ll adjust, especially as my sons have become as proficient at nagging me about my health as I once was with them.

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