I was falsely accused of saying God was banning alcohol. What I said was, “I am convinced God is calling those who would be excellent, and powerful in the Spirit, to stop drinking alcohol…including beer.” I never said the Bible banned drinking.
But now—because of science–this has become is a health issue. There is no safe level of alcohol consumption.
A large new global study published in the Lancet has confirmed previous research which has shown that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.
The researchers admit moderate drinking may protect against heart disease but found that the risk of cancer and other diseases outweighs these protections.
A study author said its findings were the most significant to date because of the range of factors considered.
How risky is moderate drinking?
The Global Burden of Disease study looked at levels of alcohol use and its health effects in 195 countries, including the UK, between 1990 and 2016.
Analyzing data from 15 to 95-year-olds, the researchers compared people who did not drink at all with those who had one alcoholic drink a day.
They found that out of 100,000 non-drinkers, 914 would develop an alcohol-related health problem such as cancer or suffer an injury.
But an extra four people would be affected if they drank one alcoholic drink a day.
For people who had two alcoholic drinks a day, 63 more developed a condition within a year and for those who consumed five drinks every day, there was an increase of 338 people, who developed a health problem.
One of the study authors, Prof Sonia Saxena, a researcher at Imperial College London and a practicing GP, said: “One drink a day does represent a small increased risk, but adjust that to the UK population as a whole and it represents a far bigger number, and most people are not drinking just one drink a day.”
A glass of red wine a day is not healthy, say researchers
The lead author of the study Dr Max Griswold, at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington, said: “Previous studies have found a protective effect of alcohol on some conditions, but we found that the combined health risks associated with alcohol increases with any amount of alcohol.
“The strong association between alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer, injuries, and infectious diseases offset the protective effects for heart disease in our study.”
Professor David Nutt wrote:
The myth of a safe level of drinking is a powerful claim. It is one that many health professionals appear to believe in and that the alcohol industry uses to defend its strategy of making the drug readily available at low prices. However, the claim is wrong and the supporting evidence flawed.
There is no safe dose of alcohol for these reasons:
Alcohol is a toxin that kills cells such as microorganisms, which is why we use it to preserve food and sterilize skin, needles etc. Alcohol kills humans too. A dose only four times as high as the amount that would make blood levels exceed drink-driving limits in the UK can kill. The toxicity of alcohol is worsened because in order for it to be cleared from the body it has to be metabolised to acetaldehyde, an even more toxic substance. Any food or drink contaminated with the amount of acetaldehyde that a unit of alcohol produces would be immediately banned as having an unacceptable health risk.
Although most people do not become addicted to alcohol on their first drink, a small proportion do. As a clinical psychiatrist who has worked with alcoholics for more than 30 years, I have seen many people who have experienced a strong liking of alcohol from their very first exposure and then gone on to become addicted to it. We cannot at present predict who these people will be, so any exposure to alcohol runs the risk of producing addiction in some users.
The supposed cardiovascular benefits of a low level of alcohol intake in some middle-aged men cannot be taken as proof that alcohol is beneficial. To do that one would need a randomized trial where part of this group drink no alcohol, others drink in small amounts and others more heavily. Until this experiment has been done we don’t have proof that alcohol has health benefits. A recent example of where an epidemiological association was found not to be true when tested properly was hormone replacement therapy. Population observations suggested that HRT was beneficial for post-menopausal women, but when controlled trials were conducted it was found to cause more harm than good.
For all other diseases associated with alcohol there is no evidence of any benefit of low alcohol intake – the risks of accidents, cancer, ulcers etc rise inexorably with intake.
Hopefully these observations will help bring some honesty to the debate about alcohol, which kills up to 40,000 people a year in the UK and over 2.25 million worldwide in the latest 2011 WHO report.
We must not allow apologists for this toxic industry to pull the wool over our eyes with their myth of a safe alcohol dose, however appealing it might be to all us so-called “safe” drinkers. Remember these words of a man whose great family wealth and influence was built on illegal alcohol:
“The great enemy of the truth, is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” John F Kennedy
David Nutt is professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London and chairs the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs.
I wrote the article about Christian leaders who drink long before this recent, large scale study confirmed there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. It’s longer a debate about whether the Bible bans wine…it’s a health issue. Now I know why the Holy Spirit led me to raise the issue. What you do with this information is between you and God. Remember, I’m not saying this science is.