A dangerous affair

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Cheers! Beer o’clock. I’ll drink to that. One for the road. Happy hour. All common terms that reflect our love affair with alcohol.

So much so that New Zealanders spend more than $4 billion per year on booze, and households, on average, spend the same on alcohol as on fruit and vegetables.

That’s just one of the startling facts that prompted Tamahere-based doctor and author Graeme Woodfield to call the book he has co-authored on the subject, Alcohol: a dangerous love affair.

Woodfield, Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology at Auckland University and a Tamahere resident, wrote the book with his friend George Seber, an Emeritus Professor of Statistics also at Auckland University.

“These distinguished and experienced scientists bring a wealth of relevant expertise to this troubled subject,” said Sir Geoffrey Palmer in the book’s foreword where he noted New Zealand’s “long and troubled history with alcohol”.

Alcohol, a dangerous love affair

He then went on to list some of the bleak messages among the “stunning assembly of evidence marshalled so well in this book.”

They include that “in New Zealand, alcohol contributes to violence, suicide, and injuries with more than 62,000 physical assaults and 10,000 sexual assaults occurring every year that involve a perpetrator who had been drinking.”

And, “it appears that the link between alcohol and cancer is not well known amongst drinkers.”

Palmer, who as president of the Law Commission led a comprehensive review of New Zealand’s alcohol laws in 2010 noted that, while a new law did emerge in 2013 it lacked “the most potent measures recommended to control the abuse of alcohol.”

He found the book a treasure trove of information on alcohol, its effects on health and society and its contribution to criminal offending.

“There is even extensive information on hangovers,” he wrote.

The authors describe the book, available in bookstores, as an in-depth study of the effects of alcohol on users, the community, the nation of New Zealand, and globally.

It is, they said, “written for anyone interested in alcohol, as even moderate drinkers are at a health risk.

“The data available is enormous, but we are left with the impression that our political peers have conveniently ignored this elephant in the room.”

George Seber has been interviewed on RNZ Nine to Noon here and on Newshub’s AM show here.

Books can also be bought direct from Graeme Woodfield, for $30, by emailing him here. (RRP $39.99.)

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