Sensible drinking

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7022.1 (Published 06 January 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1
  1. Griffith Edwards
  1. Emeritus professor of addiction behaviour National Addiction Centre, London SE5 8AF

    Doctors should stick with the independent medical advice

    In April 1995 the BMA's board of science and education reaffirmed previous medical advice that women should drink no more than 14 units and men no more than 21 units of alcohol a week.1 The board accepted evidence that low levels of alcohol may protect older people against coronary heart disease, but it concluded that abstainers should not be encouraged to drink “for their health.” In June a joint working party of the royal colleges of physicians, psychiatrists, and general practitioners examined the research evidence in detail2 and confirmed the validity of the existing limits. Older men and postmenopausal women who drank low to moderate amounts of alcohol were found to have lower rates of coronary heart disease than abstainers, but the colleges concluded, “a decision to begin drinking should not be made for medical reasons.”

    Advising patients about drinking is an inescapable medical responsibility. The general practitioner contract …

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