Thursday, December 22, 2005

Is alcohol good for you?

In my case, I doubt it but with the seasonal saturnalia fast approaching, I'm clutching at straws. Here's one from the Guardian about Richard Doll the doctor who helped establish a link between smoking and lung cancer. His research into the health implications of alcohol consumption yielded some unexpected results:
"By 2004, he had acquired data on more than 12,000 men, 7,000 of whom had died. There was a clear link between alcohol and health: doctors who drank alcohol lived longer. Their chances of dying in any given year was about 20% less than their teetotal classmates. Doll suspected that there might have been a statistical error: he wondered if the results could have been twisted by high death rates among the ex-drinkers who may have quit after alcoholism or ill health. He went over the results a second time, this time comparing all the doctors who had ever regularly drunk alcohol with those who had never touched the stuff. The difference came out smaller, but the teetotallers still came off worse. Doctors drinking a unit of alcohol a day lived longest, but even those drinking an average of 40 units each week - the equivalent of 20 pints of beer - still lived longer than those who never drank at all."
A little of what you fancy does you good, in other words. Eat, drink and be merry - just try not to be too British about it. The last line is priceless:
"I heard Doll present his findings. Someone asked him if alcohol could somehow be reformulated as a pill. Puzzlement was clear in his reply. 'Why would you want to do that?'"
A Merry Christmas to one and all.

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