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HEALTH

Drinking glass of French red a day not good for health, major study reveals

Drinking a glass of French red a day will not keep the doctor away, a major new study reveals.

Drinking glass of French red a day not good for health, major study reveals
Photo: AFP

People who live very long and happy lives will often claim that it was drinking a glass of red wine — or maybe even a glass of brandy in the morning — that has kept them going for so long. 

And the French wine industry has even gone to great lengths to dispute the claim by France's Health Minister Agnes Buzyn that wine was just as dangerous as any other alcohol

But, according to a major new study into the effects of drinking alcohol, even an occasional glass of wine or beer increases the risk of health problems and dying.

The report, which attributes 2.8 million premature deaths worldwide each year to booze claims no amount of drinking is good for you.

Wine is not special, it's as dangerous as any alcohol, warn French doctorsPhoto: AFP

“There is no safe level of alcohol,” said Max Griswold, a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, Washington and lead author for a consortium of more than 500 experts.

Despite recent research showing that light-to-moderate drinking reduces heart disease, the new study found that alcohol use is more likely than not to do harm.

“The protective effect of alcohol was offset by the risks,” Griswold told AFP in summarising the results, published in medical journal The Lancet on Friday.

“Overall, the health risks associated with alcohol rose in line with the amount consumed each day.”

Compared to abstinence, imbibing one “standard drink” — 10 grammes of alcohol, equivalent to a small beer, glass of wine or shot of spirits — per day, for example, ups the odds of developing at least one of two dozen health problems by about half-a-percent, the researchers reported.

Looked at one way, that seems like a small increment: 914 out of 100,000 teetotallers will encounter those problems, compared to 918 people who imbibe seven times per week.

Photo: AFP

“But at the global level, that additional risk of 0.5 percent among (once-a-day) drinkers corresponds to about 100,000 additional deaths each year,” said senior author Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor at the University of Washington and a director at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

No doubt the news will be enough to galvanise France's wine producers once again. 

Wine-making and drinking is intrinsically French, produced for centuries in all regions of France and central to the country's economy.

There is even a wine marathon in the Medoc wine growing region in which participants are served glasses of red at drink stations. and Bordeaux is home to the €81 million Cité du Vin, described as the biggest wine museum in the world.

In France, the wine market is worth €28.3 billion ($32 billion) in 2015, France remains by far the largest exporter in terms of market share value, with 29 percent, equivalent to €8.2 billion.

However, the number of people drinking wine in France does seem to be dropping.
 
On average the French drink around 44 litres of wine each per year, a steep drop on the 160 litres downed annually by the average adult in 1965. 
 
Perhaps this report will be enough to make it drop even further. 

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HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

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