CAMRA research shows GP’s don’t support alcohol ‘Safe Limit’ and think alcohol can be part of a healthy lifestyle

Dame Sally Davies FMedSci DBE FRS

The  majority of GP’s don’t support the alcohol ‘Safe Limit’ according to a new survey of UK GPs carried out by CAMRA. More than half of those questioned disagreed with the Chief Medical Officer’s statement in January that there was no safe level of alcohol consumption.

The poll, conducted in April by medeConnect, showed that 60% of the GPs disagreed about a safe level of alcohol consumption. It also found that almost two thirds (63%) of the GPs considered that moderate alcohol consumption can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

 The new alcohol guidance published by the Chief Medical Officer in January came under criticism for breaking the common international practice by providing the same guidelines for men and women; adopting a very low threshold of 14 units per week and stating that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.

 Numerous scientific studies have shown that moderate drinking can have a protective effect against various health problems including cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and certain forms of cancer.

 Over 1000 GPs were asked, “To what extent do you agree with the following statements?

 There is no safe level of alcohol consumption: strongly agree; somewhat agree; neither agree nor disagree; somewhat disagree and don’t know.”

Only 30 % either agreed somewhat or strongly agreed. Only 10% sat on the fence saying they neither agreed nor disagreed.

When it came to moderate consumption; 63% agreed somewhat or strongly that alcohol could be part of a healthy lifestyle. Just 23% thought it wasn’t.

Of the 1006 GPs that took part in the CAMRA survey, 91 were from Scotland, 27 from Northern Ireland and 51 were from Wales. The breakdown of male/female was 55% and 45% respectively.

CAMRA’s National Chairman, Colin Valentine said of the results, “We made the observation when the new guidelines were published that the Chief Medical Officers had ignored evidence which showed that moderate drinking can have a beneficial effect. Only recently, we commissioned a report from Oxford University ‘Friends on Tap’ which found that those who had frequented a local pub were happier, healthier and felt more integrated in their communities than those without. Furthermore, research has shown that the mortality rate of moderate drinkers is lower than those who abstain altogether. It therefore is no surprise that this survey has illustrated that GPs overwhelmingly believe that a moderate consumption of alcohol can be part of a good and healthy lifestyle.”

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