Everything in moderation

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Booze is bad for you – but will Britons ever get the message without being forced?

British doctors have called for a UK-wide ban on alcohol advertising.

Well, about time too, really.

We really ought to stop pretending that alcohol is, in any way, a good thing. Even the argument that red wine is ‘good for you’ is untrue – red grape juice has all the antioxidant benefits without the disadvantages. Even a modest amount of booze – well under the recommended limits – dramatically increases your risk of many types of cancer.

However, Britons are now drinking far, far more than people drank back in the 50s, and everyone’s health (and national insurance bill) is suffering on account of it. Alcohol abuse is now the third-leading cause of death in the UK and is costing the NHS £3bn a year – 50 quid for every man jack of us.

It’s probably hard for those who have the odd glass of wine with a meal to conceive of the way that British yoofs are putting it away these days, but it’s no surprise to anyone who lives near a pub-laden city centre and has to walk over the piles of vomit the next morning. Nor is it a surprise to anyone who works in a casualty department, or any doctor who deals with liver disease. People are now hitting the gurneys in their 20s, with the livers of 50-year olds.

Unfortunately, (I say, as I once loved a tipple myself) drink also takes the worst of its toll on women. Not only are our bodies smaller and our livers less efficient at processing what is basically a toxin, almost all rapes take place at or near places of entertainment after the hours of darkness.

Take alcohol consumption out of the picture, and the rape rates would drop dramatically – very few men commit this crime unless fuelled by an intoxicant.You can’t stop people drinking altogether, of course, and the doctors are not about to try. But banning marketing, restricting booze to off-licences, raising the price and being far more careful about who gets to drink and when can only do the nation’s health good as a whole.  

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