A businessman goes to his GP. ‘My hands hurt, I get a bit of a pain in my chest sometimes, and I’m beginning to forget things,’ he complains.
The doctor examines him and says: ‘You’ve got a touch of arthritis, possibly mild heart disease, and you may be in the first stages of dementia. How much are you drinking?’
‘Never touch a drop, doctor,’ says the patient proudly.
‘Ah, that explains it,’ says the GP, wagging an admonishing finger. ‘Here’s a prescription for red wine — a quarter of a litre a day.’
Ridiculous? Absurd? A story from the Bumper Book of Jokes for Alcoholics? Absolutely not.
Let me tell you this: if GPs fail to recommend alcohol to at least some of their patients, they should be had up for medical negligence.
That, at least, is the logical conclusion I’ve drawn from an in-depth study of around half-a-million scientific papers about alcohol.
To my surprise, they contained findings that would make any pharmaceutical company uncork the champagne. Except they never will, of course, because alcohol can’t be patented as a drug.
Most of the evidence suggests that if red wine, in particular — and to a lesser degree white wine, beer, lager and spirits — were used as a preventive and therapeutic medicine, disease rates would fall substantially. Not only that, but lives would be saved — with huge benefits to the economy.
In fact, red wine may well be one of the most effective ‘medications’ in history.
Like other drugs, it has side-effects. It has a minimum and maximum therapeutic dose — take too little and it won’t work; take too much and it may make you ill.
And it has a daily treatment regime: ideally, you should take wine once a day with the evening meal.
Yes, daily. I know that the medical profession urges us to stop drinking at least two or three days a week, but this isn’t borne out by scientific studies. These consistently show that daily moderate drinking is the best for health.
OK, but what is a moderate amount? Unfortunately, that’s where it gets a bit more complicated, because the prevention and treatment of different diseases seem to require differing amounts — varying from a small to a large glass a day, but sometimes more.
Of course, most people already know red wine is supposed to be good for your heart. But, that aside, the endlessly repeated public message is that alcohol is Bad News.
Now, I’d be foolish to deny that over-indulging in booze can be harmful to society. You need only think of alcohol-fuelled crime, road deaths, city centre mayhem, domestic violence, and costs to the NHS.
But to show only one side of the picture, as government and medical authorities inevitably do, is simply bad medicine. It prevents people making sensible decisions about their own health.
Why haven’t doctors ever come clean about all this? The reason is fairly obvious: they don’t trust us.
One shining exception is Professor Karol Sikora, the UK-based consultant oncologist who’s written the foreword to my new book about the benefits of alcohol.
Read more: dailymail.co.uk