Dispatches – Drinking Yourself To Death

Cirrhotic Liver
A normal liver on the left, a cirrhotic liver on the right. Mmmm… tasty fibrosis!

Dispatches investigates the medical profession’s warnings of a liver disease time bomb by organising a unique experiment – using cutting edge technology not yet available on the NHS to test the health of people’s livers in London and Birmingham.

In all, 70 passers-by take up the opportunity to have the test – with shocking results that suggest the incidence of liver disease is even higher than doctors had feared.

Dr Rajiv Jalan, who supervises some of the testing is astonished by this snapshot of the liver health of the nation, saying: “I’m stunned. We are looking at an epidemic that’s going to face us in 15/20 years which the health service will find impossible to deal with.”

One doctor says: “We’re seeing more and more people who work in the City or work busy jobs who drink socially, with meetings, entertaining clients, come home in the evening, have half a bottle of wine or more just to relax after a busy day’s work. They’re not getting drunk, they’re not dependent, they have high-profile, high-powered jobs and yet they get liver disease.”
(Source: Channel 4 – Dispatches)

I’m watching this edition of Dispatches now. It all seems terribly familiar to me…

The journalist has just interviewed an industry spokesman, asking why the alcohol industry has lobbied against The Anderson Report, a comprehensive scientific study that recommended treating alcohol in the same way as we now treat smoking.

But the industry doesn’t want increased taxes, advertising bans, warnings on their drugs.

And this is where my deja-vu comes in. I’m reminded strongly of the tactics the tobacco industry used (and continues to use) to protect their peddling of cancer sticks.

There’s another industry PR cunt on now, rubbishing all the health warnings. I hope he can sleep soundly at night, knowing that his job is to help cause misery, disease and suffering for millions of people.

The startling thing about this programme is that it’s not pointing at the extreme drinkers, it’s singling out the people who have a few glasses of wine at the end of a long day. The “normal” drinkers. It’s these people that are the ticking time-bomb of future liver disease.

I got drunk when I was a kid, I enjoyed it for a while. But I gave up 25 years ago and I can honestly say it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. In truth, the only reason I started was peer pressure. Drinking itself is pointless and illogical. Moreover, if you need a drink to enjoy a night out, then that’s precisely the time you should stop. I’m amazed people spend so much money on getting habituated to a drug which is both enormously physically damaging and an obvious emotional crutch.

But I guess I would say all the above, being a loony, commie straight-edger, eh? 🙂

I’ll leave you with a few more loony facts:

Total Health Impact

* Alcohol is responsible for 7.4% of all ill-health and early death in the EU (after taking account of any benefits to health), which makes it the third most important cause behind tobacco and high blood pressure and ahead of factors like obesity, high cholesterol and illicit drugs.

* Alcohol is responsible for 115,000 deaths in people who die before the age of 70 (after taking into account any health benefits), and is the leading cause of death in young men in the EU.

* Alcohol is a cause of harm to others than the drinker, including some 60,000 underweight births, 5-9 million children living in families adversely affected by alcohol, 10,000 traffic deaths to people other than the driver, and 2,000 murders in the European Union each year.
(Source: Anderson Report)