Feeds

MPs probe science behind bogus gov booze guidelines

Write in to save your pub, and maybe lower beer prices!

Top three mobile application threats

Science Committee MPs are to investigate the "evidence base" behind the Government's guidelines on alcohol consumption.

A thorough investigation is long overdue, as the Puritanical advice of the doctor's union, the BMA, long ago diverged from the scientific evidence. And there are signs that this inquiry may have teeth. The Commons Science and Technology Committee says it wants to find out more about the evidence base, how these sources could be improved, and how the UK compares to other countries.

One aspect absent from the call for submissions is the close relationship between the academic community and policy makers. Governments sponsor academics to produce "science" of dubious quality to support conclusions reached in advance, what you might call "policy-based evidence-making". We recounted one example of that here related to minimum pricing for alcohol.

The Sheffield meta-study specially commissioned to support the policy buried evidence that moderate alcohol consumption lowers chances of heart disease and strokes. This is called the "French Paradox": France has the sixth-highest level of alcohol consumption in the world, and a notoriously fatty diet, but the heart disease rate is a third of that in the UK.

The Sheffield study admitted that "four out of five cohort studies showed statistically significant reduction of all causes of mortality between 15 per cent and 25 per cent for moderate drinking". And "moderate" was around three pints of beer a day for men, or two glasses of wine for women, per day. The relative risk ratio of beer drinkers developing coronary heart disease is 0.7 (compared to 1.0 for lifelong abstainers), according to studies, and moderate drinking provides a protective function against ischemic strokes, too.

Subsequent studies stubbornly support the conclusions.

If policy makers followed the evidence base, they would advise men and women over 45 to drink more. Yet last week, the BMA called for shorter opening hours of pubs and off-licences, a total ban on alcohol advertising, and higher alcohol pricing. Much energy is devoted to the low-hanging fruit of junk science, such as homeopathy, yet there seems to be a reluctance to tackle the institutional junk.

The Committee is welcoming written submissions of up to 3,000 words by Wednesday 14 September 2011. The details are here.

Please don't use a beer mat. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.