Tuesday, 1 November 2011

No, no, no

A quick review of some of the weekend's idiots...

From the BBC, where if the press release mentions 'alcohol', it's a news story, no matter how implausible the findings or how shaky the research.

A small number of children as young as 12 claimed they drank the equivalent of 19 glasses of wine a week when questioned for a health survey.

Research by the independent Schools Health Education Unit suggested that 4% of those questioned aged 12 or 13 claimed they drank 28 units or more.

It's strange that no one involved in this study, let alone the Beeb, considered the possibility that 4% of 12 and 13 year olds might amuse themselves by making stuff up when confronted with earnest surveys about their drinking habits. Frankly, I'm a little disappointed the figure was so low. What's the matter with kids today?

Elsewhere, an epidemiological study has arrived with some mildly heroic conclusions:

Heavy alcohol consumption linked to lung cancer

Smokers are more likely to be heavy drinkers. That much is true. I humbly suggest, therefore, that this study failed to control adequately for smoking or misclassified some smokers as nonsmokers. I cannot prove this, but the other findings suggest that this was not the best conducted study ever produced...

Although researchers found several factors that increased lung cancer risk, other factors were found to be related to reduced risk of the disease. Dr. Siu and team found an inverse relationship between BMI and lung cancer risk, where higher BMI levels were associated with a lower risk for lung cancer. A similar relationship was seen in those who graduated from college.

Er, yeah. Nonsmokers are more likely to be overweight and obese than smokers, therefore there would be an indirect association between low BMI and lung cancer. As for the 'link' with high school graduation, that only demonstrates that associations can be found anywhere if you do not control for confounding factors. I would be interested to see the study in full (so far it's only been presented at a public health conference - surprise, surprise), but in the meantime I think it's safer to call bullshit on this one rather than rip up the textbooks.

Meanwhile, as Scotland brings its illegal pricing scheme before parliament, the suicidal pub industry cannot see beyond its short-term self-interest.

Greene King brewery boss backs minimum alcohol pricing

Plans to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol would "go to the very heart" of Scotland's drink problems, a brewery boss has claimed.

This is the same Greene King that was "optimistic about the smoking ban" in July 2007 before the reality of the smoking ban helped its shares to collapse by 60%. Maybe they were right to be optimistic, compared to some other pub chains, a post-ban plummet of 60% isn't that bad.

That experience hasn't dented their faith in alleged public health policies and they see minimum pricing as a way to lure back the customers that the smoking ban drove away. Like the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, who made the jaw-dropping demand that alcohol units be priced at £1.00, they think that if they help the temperance lobby batter the off license trade, the beast will kill them last. The short-sightedness of these cretins beggars belief.

Greene King runs 2,000 pubs and makes Ruddles, IPA and Old Speckled Hen. Bear that in mind next time you're out and about.


Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to the Scottish minimum price experiment, which looks as if it will come in so long as the EU doesn't veto it. Chaos will follow. Vans full of drink leaving Berwick and Carlisle; the law pretty quickly strengthened to ban online deiveries from Tesco's English depots (alluded to by the SNP); an explosion in home brewing and wine making; hundreds of off-licences going bust; etc, etc. Fantastic. And finally, those smug moderate drinkers who drink £5.49 wine rather than the £3.49 "rot-gut" (actually very pleasant) wine I drink, will be dismayed to find that a minimum price does affect them; because the £3.49 wine will cost £4.89 and the £5.49 wine will cost £6.99. When will they learn? Send not to know for whom the bell tolls.... etc.

Anonymous said...

Er, yeah. Nonsmokers are more likely to be overweight and obese than smokers, therefore there would be an indirect association between low BMI and lung cancer.

So it goes around in circles then until it will come right back to where it started, just as long as this year's propaganda messaging is enough to ensure another years worth of inflated funding.

Pat Nurse MA said...

Eh? - now I'm really confused. Are they saying that being fat is less likely to give you lung cancer, and if so, why have I read in the Mail this week that the NHS is on alert for a doubling of cancer cases by 2050 (the year when they want smoking completely eradicated) because of the rise in obesity?

Sounds like they are gearing up for a new market of denormalised people because they've drained just about all they can get from smokers.