Drinking Alcohol and Loneliness: What the papers have been saying.

This week, let’s concentrate on what has been reported in the papers recently. One that affects most of the readers of this Blog now, and one that my classes have discussed before where new evidence has been published recently.

This story has been reported in a number of places and given that the story is based on NICE recommendations perhaps we should all be paying attention. What the papers and news agencies have been saying is that middle-aged people should be warned there is “no safe level of alcohol consumption” and apparently they have been advised to curb their drinking to reduce their risk of developing dementia. See http://www.itv.com/news/2015-10-21/middle-aged-should-curb-booze-to-avoid-dementia/ as an example. So should we be paying attention? I have mentioned before the NHS Choices site “Behind the Headlines” and there review group have considered this guidance and its interesting to look and see what they say about it compared to the news articles. The first thing to notice is that it was about more than just alcohol. To view their thoughts on the new guidance (and to carry out a quick health check of your own) see http://www.nhs.uk/news/2015/10October/Pages/Warning-about-middle-aged-drinking-and-dementia.aspx

Earlier this month there was an interesting piece of work done in the USA reported as  “Low levels of face-to-face social contact ‘can double the risk of depression in older people’,” in both the the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11912255/Low-levels-of-face-to-face-social-contact-can-double-depression-risk.html Again the “Behind the Headlines” team have done a very thorough job on explaining these findings from the USA. Again take a look and contrast the headlines with this interpretation. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2015/10October/Pages/visits-with-family-and-friends-prevents-depression-in-older-people.aspx

I don’t think there is any doubt that social contact helps but what constitutes good social contact is clearly still up for debate. Do you have any thoughts on either of these issues? Feel free to add comments.

Last thing, how about a free book! And a big bonus, not only is it free its about something that can be hard to understand. So if you think you would like a copy of “Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics”; go to this book review.

http://www.students4bestevidence.net/know-chances-understanding-health-statistics-book-review/

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