Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

I could have framed alcohol-breast cancer advice better - Chief Medical Officer

England's Chief Medical Officer has admitted she chose her words poorly when she told women they should "do as I do" and think about the risks of breast cancer every time they reach for a glass of wine.

Dame Sally Davies was accused of nanny state attitudes when she made the comments earlier this year to MPs at a Science and Technology Select Committee hearing.

Dame Sally has also set tough new guidance which cut the recommended drinking limit to 14 units a week - the equivalent of seven glasses of wine - for men and women.

But she used her guest-editing slot on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme to talk about alcohol with wine writer Jancis Robinson.

Addressing her controversial comments, Dame Sally told the show: "Let me start by saying I could have framed that better, couldn't I, when I was in front of the Select Committee.

"And everyone knows, who knows me well, that I enjoy a glass of wine too.

"What I was trying to get over is, what are the low-risk guidance for drinking?"

Dame Sally said she will be enjoying a glass of champagne on New Year's Eve like many others, but warned there is a "straight line" in the relationship between drinking and breast cancer.

National guidelines aim to slash the risk of harm to just 1%, and the stark warning was targeted at those who are drinking so much they are endangering themselves, Dame Sally said.

"And I think my job is to tell them the evidence, it is not to be nanny and tell them they must, but they do need to think about it."

Dame Sally also accused critics who have dubbed her Britain's nanny-in-chief of being sexist.

She said: "I think it's very sexist. I'm the first female chief medical officer, the 16th - the post has been there statutorily for 168 years.

"Would they have called my male predecessors nannies, let alone nanny-in-chief?"


From Belfast Telegraph