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Phil Mellows is a freelance journalist living in Brighton  



         Phil's Diary August 25, 2009



Good health! Or is it?

Claims about the benefits of moderate drinking have long been a part of the industry’s case against anti-alcohol measures, not to mention, in more innocent times, their use in blatant promotion. ‘Guinness is good for you’ still resonates as a slogan and the same brewer once ran a press ad headed ‘a doctor writes’ extolling the salubrious effects of a glass of stout.

These days the claims are more drily scientific and circumspect, and I’m not sure they contribute very much. People don’t drink because it’s healthy. They drink because they like it. And how do you get them drinking in the precise moderation required?

Nevertheless, white-coated boffins continue to tease out the evidence, and the latest results, from a survey of 12,000-odd over-55s published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, seems pretty conclusive.

The research aimed to cut out all the ‘confounding factors’ raised by critics and still concluded that one drink a day reduces your mortality risk by 38 per cent.

That comes with a health warning, though. The update where I read this also contains less cheerful research results linking alcohol to acute injuries, acute myocardial infarction, pancreatic cancer, chronic pancreatitis and heightened risk of contracting HIV.

Rather takes the bloom of it. Which is another reason why I’m sceptical about the healthy drinking arguments. In the end, living itself is a risky business. You could die at any moment. But it doesn’t stop you doing it.


Heart of glass

Them white-coated boffins are busy people. Now the Home Office has asked them to invent a less dangerous receptacle for beer.

This a currently known as a ‘glass’ because that’s what it’s made of. It’s possible they’ll come up with a new kind of glass glass but the fear is it’ll be some placcy job.

Iain Loe, organic intellectual of the Campaign for Real Ale, has set out the arguments against plastic in The Guardian so I won’t repeat his excellent analysis.

I’ll only add that a nice glass not only enhances the aesthetic experience of drinking beer, it influences your attitude towards alcohol – taking it seriously, allowing it to touch the sides as it goes down. That mere receptacle has an important part to play if we’re to develop a more responsible attitude to drinking.

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