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Everything in moderation

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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Another fun bites the dust

If even moderate drinking increases your risk of cancer, it might just be a risk I'm willing to take

So, it would seem that yet another pleasure is being taken away from women - even moderate drinking, it appears, increases your risk of cancer.

I assume I'm not the only one fed-up with all this. Can't screw around (AIDS, herpes, hepatitis...), can't take drugs (even cannabis seems now to be linked with psychosis later in life), can't smoke (yeah, we all know why...), can't get pissed (I'm sure most of us have cut down to our 14 units a weeks or fewer) and can't eat yummy delicious food either. 

Now they're telling us that even our 14 units a week is 14 too many and that ALL alcohol is bad. Shame that booze is so very pleasurable then, isn't it?

I have to admit that in my own life it's the last thing I'll be cutting out. I never did get to shag around, being too fat and shy for that sort of thing, and drugs always terrified me because I suffer from depression. I LOVED smoking, but I gave it up for good five years ago and haven't been a daily smoker for nearly 20 years. But wine will be the last to go. They will have to prise it out of my dead, cold hands.

A meal without wine, to me, seems a pointless exercise, rather like a cup of tea without a digestive biscuit. Switching to camomile tea breaks the biscuit link, but how is one to break the link between wine and food? It is age-old, celebrated in almost every literature. Eat, drink and be merry, for tommorow we die.

Nothing else complements food the way wine does. I've tried water and it's rubbish. I've tried orange juice and it just doesn't GO. It goes with breakfast but not with lunch or dinner. I'd already cut out spirits years ago, and reduced my wine intake to red only, a single 110ml glass, but being asked to cut that out too seems a step too far to me. 

Well, I guess something's got to kill you - and it looks like in my case, it's going to be the drink.

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