Protz: Drinking guidelines 'bad science'

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Road to prohibition: Protz has criticised the guidelines
Road to prohibition: Protz has criticised the guidelines

Related tags Chief medical officer Good beer guide Alcoholic beverage Wine

Beer writer and editor of the Good Beer Guide Roger Protz has slammed guidance from the Chief Medical Officer that men and women should drink no more than 14 units a week.

The guide, which was sponsored by real ale quality assessor Cask Marque, stated that the move is 'bad science' and the 14 units per week 'limit' is out of kilter with other countries. In Ireland Denmark the guidelines recommend drinking no more than 21 units, 25 in the US and Canada, and 34 units in Spain.

Protz argued: “Are the Spanish a nation of falling-down drunks? On the contrary, we are advised to adopt their healthy Mediterranean diet which includes wine and beer.”

He added that he is glad the Government “rowed back” on the recommendations and said moderate drinking had no greater health risk than driving a car​.

Protz continued: “But the Government still supports 14 units a week and says they are based on good science when the opposite is the case.

“It appears that the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, was heavily influenced by the Institute for Alcohol Studies, which is funded by the Alliance House Foundation, whose former name was the UK Temperance Alliance. The alliance grew out of the temperance movement in the United States that campaigned for prohibition in the 20th​ century.”

Protz also criticised Davies for saying when she is offered a glass of wine, she thinks ‘cancer’. He explained that evidence from the School of Public Health at Harvard University in the US, Tufts University in Massachusetts, the American Stroke Association and the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki, Finland, points to moderate consumption of beer can protect drinkers against diabetes, heart attacks, dementia, strokes, bone disease and gall stones.

Protz said: “Professor Davies also took evidence from the Alcohol Health Alliance that claims alcohol consumption has increased in the UK in recent years. This claim contradicts official figures compiled by HM Revenue & Customs, which collects the taxes and duties levied on alcohol, that show sales in the UK have fallen by close to 20% over the past decade.”

He also indicated that further evidence of decreasing levels of alcohol abuse from the Local Alcohol Profile for England in June revealed hospital admissions for under-18s had dropped by half, and for women by 42% since 2008/2009. Additionally, admissions for people aged under 40 dropped by 12.5% over the past five years.

The beer writer said: “The Good Beer Guide ​urges people to drink sensibly and moderately, and to do their drinking in company in the pub. But the restrictions urged by the medical officers are taking us on the road to prohibition. Men used to be told to drink no more than 21 units a week, now it’s 14 units. What will the advice be in a few years’ time, no units at all?

“All the real scientific evidence shows that moderate beer drinking can contribute to a healthy lifestyle. We should listen to the experts, not the killjoys of the temperance movement.”

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