Alcohol Guidelines - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Supplementary written evidence submitted by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research and AIM, Alcohol in Moderation (AG 09a)

We followed the first evidence meeting at the Commons last week with interest. Two very important things were not brought up:

(1)  The Australian and Canadian responsible drinking reviews were brought up, but no mention of the US reviews were made. The US is the only country in the world to have carried out systematic reviews of the evidence base for guidelines every five years—it is a process that takes over a year as you will see and involves an impartial panel of specialists.[6],[7]

(2)  A lot of time was spent on "specifics" of particular diseases, especially heart disease and cancer. No mention was made of epidemiology and alcohol and all cause mortality—this is the key on which low risk guidelines are made. Ie you risk of dying if you drink a specific amount of alcohol daily/regularly. This approach balances out the "protective" effect of alcohol on heart disease in older populations and the negative effect of alcohol and cancer at higher doses for example. The "tipping point", as laid out in our submission is approximately 20g a day for women and 30g a day for men; importantly the evidence base points to little and often and preferably with food as the least risky pattern of drinking—rather than abstinence and binge.

October 2011

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Prepared 9 January 2012