Zero tolerance: no safe level of alcohol, study says

The protective effect of alcohol was offset by the risks. (AFP)
Updated 24 August 2018
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Zero tolerance: no safe level of alcohol, study says

PARIS: Even an occasional glass of wine or beer increases the risk of health problems and dying, according to a major study on drinking in 195 nations that attributes 2.8 million premature deaths worldwide each year to booze.
“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 grams 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.
“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.

“Those are excess deaths, in other words, that could be avoided,” she told AFP.
The risk climbs in a steep “J-curve,” the study found.
An average of two drinks per day, for example, translated into a 7.0 percent hike in disease and injury compared to those who opt for abstinence.
With five “units” of alcohol per day, the likelihood of serious consequences jumps by 37 percent.
The “less is better, none is best” finding jibes with the World Health Organization’s long-standing position, but is at odds with many national guidelines, especially in the developed world.
Britain’s health authority, for example, suggests not exceeding 14 drinks per week “to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level.”
“There is always a lag between the publication of new evidence and the modification and adoption of revised guidelines,” said Gakidou, who admitted to being an “occasional drinker” herself.
“The evidence shows what the evidence shows, and I — like 2.4 billion other people on the planet that also consume alcohol — need to take it seriously.”
Overall, drinking was the seventh leading risk factor for premature death and disease in 2016, accounting for just over two percent of deaths in women and nearly seven percent in men.
The top six killers are high blood pressure, smoking, low-birth weight and premature delivery, high blood sugar (diabetes), obesity and pollution.
But in the 15-49 age bracket, alcohol emerged as the most lethal factor, responsible for more than 12 percent of deaths among men, the study found.

The main causes of alcohol-related deaths in this age group were tuberculosis, road injuries and “self-harm,” mainly suicide.
King’s College London professor Robyn Burton, who did not take part in the study, described it as “the most comprehensive estimate of the global burden of alcohol use to date.”
The examination of impacts drew from more than 600 earlier studies, while a country-by-country tally of prevalence — the percentage of men and women who drink, and how much they consume — drew from another 700.
Both were grounded in new methods that compensated for the shortcomings of earlier efforts.
Among men, drinking alcohol in 2016 was most widespread in Denmark (97 percent), along with Norway, Argentina, Germany, and Poland (94 percent).
In Asia, South Korean men took the lead, with 91 percent hitting the bottle at least once in a while.
Among women, Danes also ranked first (95 percent), followed by Norway (91 percent), Germany and Argentina (90 percent), and New Zealand (89 percent).
The biggest drinkers, however, were found elsewhere.
Men in Romania who partake knocked back a top-scoring eight drinks a day on average, with Portugal, Luxembourg, Lithuania and Ukraine just behind at seven “units” per day.
Ukranian women who drink were in a league of their own, putting away more than four glasses or shots every 24 hours, followed by Andorra, Luxembourg, Belarus, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and Britain, all averaging about three per day.
The most abstemious nations were those with Muslim-majority populations.


Chef couple wins many hearts by giving international dishes a Saudi twist

Budoor Al-Solami, left, and Waleed Moathen have recreated many dishes and desserts such as muffins with dates and tahini. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 17 November 2018
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Chef couple wins many hearts by giving international dishes a Saudi twist

  • The chef duo started their YouTube channel ‘Saa’widha’ just five months ago

JEDDAH: Budoor Al-Solami, 26, and Waleed Moathen, 28, started their YouTube channel “Saa’widha” (to turn it Saudi) under the cooking channel Atyab Tabkha just five months ago.
Atyab Tabkha is sponsored by digital media company Diwanee. All the chef couple’s episodes have been made at Atyab Tabkha’s studio in Dubai.
The couple takes any international dish and give it a Saudi spin. Their creativity and ideas are fun and broad. The couple have recreated many dishes and desserts such as muffins with dates and tahini.
“Usually, it is the international kitchen that receives all the fame and spotlight, and rarely does the Arab or Saudi kitchen have a media presence,” Al-Solami told Arab News. “Which is why we decided to invent something new, merging international kitchens in a Saudi way. Especially because the Saudi kitchen is characterized by its various flavors and high taste,” she added.
To recreate these international dishes with Saudi flavors, the couple use Saudi spices and agricultural products “produced by our country such as dates, local meat and the unique Taif flowers,” said Moathen.
Al-Solami works at a five-star hotel and Moathen is an executive chef at a restaurant. Leading such busy lives, the couple still manage to find a balance between their jobs and their channel.
“The nature of our job requires us to work for long hours, sometimes 12 hours in a day. For this reason we decided, with the agreement of the company, that we film our episodes during our vacation days.”
The channel came to fruition when Diwanee was looking for Saudi chefs.
“They contacted me. They wanted to create a regular cooking show just like any other cooking show, then Waleed and I thought of how we can change the idea of traditional cooking and shows, and we wanted to put the Saudi kitchen in our show. This is how ‘Saa’widha’ was created,” according to Al-Solami.
“And this was how we came up with many ideas such as the Saudi sushi, and Waleed came up with vegan ice cream with Saudi ingredients such as almond coffee. We even made focaccia bread and muffins with a Saudi twist,” she explained.

Working is fun
Working together is fun and full of surprises, said Moathen. “When we cook, we really enjoy it and we share new ideas with each other.”
“Saa’widha,” of course, is displayed in Arabic, but the couple are planning to add subtitles in different languages in their next season. “Especially because we have friends of different nationalities,” explained Moathen.
Their show was warmly received by the Saudi audience, and the two are showered with positive comments under each episode.

 

 “I am very happy to see the interaction of people in the comments, and their kind words and positive support,” said Al-Solami
“I am overjoyed and this encourages me to continue what I love and what the viewers love,” said Moathen.
Al-Solami and Moathen studied tourism and hospitality respectively and wish to open a restaurant chain and culinary school.

Decoder

Almond Coffee

A hot Hejazi beverage traditionally made with milk, ground almonds, rice flour, sugar and cinnamon, and is popular during winter season.