Dr Eric Crampton of the University of Canterbury – a rising star – gave a great presentation at the Policy Symposium at the Conference of Economists, held this past week in (very cold) Canberra.
He was competing in the Dodgy Awards, where participants vied for the prize of “my policy area is the worst” (NBN won on a show of boo’s). But Eric’s contribution in the field of preventive health was very worthy, given the extreme tendency of public health ‘experts’ to invent really, really big scary numbers of the social costs of smoking, drinking, eating, etc.
One the more egregious errors of these Mary Poppins-types (oops, a bad analogy because didn’t she recommend a spoonful of (evil) sugar for that completely unwarranted dose of medicine peddled by exploitative, multinational BigPharma?) is to count private benefits as social costs.
But the most pleasing aspect of Eric’s presentation was to learn that the health benefits of (some) alcohol continue to stack up. Researchers had been making a fundamental error in their analyses – what – scientists undertaking flawed research? How could that be – they never do in relation to climate change? – by including previous drinkers who have given up alcohol because of illness in the control group. Clearly, this treatment was biasing the results in favour of alcohol intake. Now the best practice is to include former drinkers with those who consume alcohol.
The pleasing result is that the health benefits of the consumption of some alcohol – less for women than men, is that fair?, I ask) persist in this new research. And so for all those wowsers who think complete abstinence is the path to good health, think again. It has to be admitted that the daily allowances are fairly small – but men seem to be able to consume up to 5 standard drinks per day before the health benefits disappear.
Actually, I have been off the gin and tonics, followed by Pinot Noir with dinner, for the past few weeks. Endone, an opiod-based drug, prescribed for the pain associated with my broken wrist (I did have nine screws and a plate put in) does not mix well with alcohol, evidently. To tell the truth, I have been very disappointed with this Endone – no euphoric highs or feelings of invincibility!