Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The effects of moderate beer consumption

With this months Brewer and Distiller International came a booklet called 'The effects of moderate beer consumption - a digest of the current scientific literature'. Looking on the back I can see it's produced by The Brewers of Europe, a body I must admit I'd never heard of before. 

Seeing who had produced the booklet I was hoping for some blatant propaganda on how drinking beer will make you live forever but in fact it's all rather restrained. A number of key messages are made but they could have done with livening up a bit:

  • Beer is a refreshing enjoyable beverage ... which brings pleasure and social interaction to many people.
    Hurrah! It gets you pissed and gets you laid!
  • It can be part of a health lifestyle
  • Beer contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  • Beer is the only dietary source of hops
    And Hurrah! Apparently they're good for you
  • Beer reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoperosis, etc.
    Hurrah! I particularly like the vague 'etc.' on the end
  • Moderate beer consumption plays a vital part in most consumers quality of life
    I think they're back to 'it gets you pissed' here
  • The health benefits are the result of moderate consumption and are quite the opposite when consumption levels rise
  • Adverse effects vary with some individuals
    So watch out lightweights
  • More studies are underway
    Good, good
The booklet then goes on to stress that health benefits only apply with moderate drinking, in this case defined as a half to a pint and a half a day for men and a half to a pint a day for women, with  no saving up your allowance for the weekend. Seeing limits like these I can't help but think The Daily Mash had a point with their article Daily Alcohol Limits Not Really Working For Us, Say Drinkers.

Perhaps if you have a glass or two of wine with your evening meal each day these limits might have some relevance but they just don't fit in with pub culture. Like most pub goers I'm more likely to be there at the weekend for a session and I'm not going to nurse three halves over the course of an evening. Perhaps it's time they came up with some sensible advice for pub goers. 

Still there is some interesting stuff in the booklet and it continues with graphs of the 'J' or 'U' shaped curve of alcohol intake and mortality. Teetotalers actually have a higher mortality than people with moderate alcohol intake so the graphs dip at first before continuing a steady rise with increasing alcohol consumption. There are marked differences between men and women here.  European women drinkers mortality becomes equal to non drinkers at the drinking rate of only 3/4 of a pint a day whereas men can glug down 3 1/4 pints daily to get the same death rate as teetotalers. Looks like the lovely Lisa's going to be the designated driver from now on!

The full report is here.

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