On the new UK Chief Medical Officers Alcohol Guidelines Review

This first week of January 2016, UK Chief Medical Officers have released a revised Guideline for Alcohol Consumption. In practice, the recommended limits for men has been lowered from 21 units to 14 units a week, therefore matching the same recommendations that were held for women (that remain at 14units/week). For what concerns pregnant women, the new guideline aligns the rest of the UK with Scotland recommending ZERO units during pregnancy.


Lots of posts have been published pointing out to this new guideline as a form neo-prohibitionism (see e.g. Jamie's Goode blog).

Others have used this new guideline as an opportunity to champion less boozy wines (see e.g. Richard Hemming MW blog).

My point of view? 

I dislike the fact that the scientific data in the government report are interpreted in a questionable way. 

However, what the new Guideline is stating is that now both MEN and WOMEN are suggested to drink the same maximum amount of alcohol, that is 14 units/week. 

So what? Is this prohibitionism? I don't think so. It's just a guideline. I can still buy as many bottles as I want in any wineshop and get drunk every night. The government won't put me in prison for that. The government is just suggesting what the maximum units should be. I'm happy with this suggestion and it is a duty of the government to suggest behaviours that improve heath and security. 
Healthier people and more secure places translates in less taxes for everybody.

Regarding Richard Hemming's invitation to "champion lower alcohol wines with a unified voice" I kindly decline. First of all, I do not like unified voices, secondly I don't understand what difference it makes to drink a wine with 12.5%vol or one with 15%vol. Both of them are very alcoholic drinks and if I fancy a 15% Italian Amarone or Californian Petite Sirah (just to name some boozy stuff) it means I will fill my glass 20% less than what I would do with a German Pinot.
Should we all follow his invitation, we would pass from a world of Big&Bold Parkerized wines to a world of Elegant&Thinner Hemmingised wines. To this I say No, thanks. I like diversity, everyone has his/her own tastes and preference and nobody is owner of the holy truth when it comes to wine. 
Similarly to Hemming, I like and prefer authentic and balanced wines, but if I'm in the mood of a bottle of a boozy hedonistic super-extracted fruit-bomb I will enjoy it with very much pleasure as well.
  
Coming back to the New Guidelines. I'm not angry at all with them. Alcohol is toxic for the body, that's the only truth.

If it was not toxic, Mother Nature would not have equipped us with Alcohol Dehydrogenase enzymes and other mechanisms to remove it from our body. Men have, on average, more of these enzymes (already in the stomach not just in the liver) with respect to women. That's maybe why limits were higher for men.  
However, we need to take into account that these protective mechanisms start to act after alcohol reaches our stomach. Therefore, there are unprotected organs like the throat that may suffer for continuous aggression from alcohol. This may lead to cancer. This is a matter of fact.

To not talk about the impact of alcohol on fertility (especially male fertility). Fertility is and will be more and more a big problem for NHS.

To not talk about the fact that alcohol create addiction

On the other side it's absolutely true that a small consumption of alcohol is beneficial against hearth failure, mainly because alcohol's vasodilatation effects and because the anti-oxidant molecules that protect our vessels and help also our body cells fighting against free radicals. Of course, not all the booze has antioxidants. Generally speaking, you will find good amounts in red wines (antioxidants from grapes and barrels) and in whisky (ellagic acid from barrels). 

Passing a given threshold, the side effects of alcohol are much more deleterious than the few benefits. 

So let's enjoy a good glass with good friends and let's take this guideline as an opportunity to reflect that it is better to drink less, but to drink better.  

How the wine industry should react? Just keep following the quality path. New generations are already drinking less wine, and for sure they prefer to drink less quantity but better quality.


Have Fun and Cheers! 
    
  

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