Public health minister takes health warnings with pinch of salt
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Public health minister takes health warnings with pinch of salt

Minister Hugo de Jonge Minister Hugo de Jonge

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – If every excess glass of wine shortens your time on earth by 30 minutes, is the sum total a joyless life?

Dutch public health minister Hugo de Jonge suggested on Friday that he was taking new reports on the damaging effects of alcohol and sunbeds with a pinch of salt.

Speaking to reporters on the way to a cabinet meeting, he said that health secretary Paul Blokhuis was best placed to comment on a new report in The Lancet suggesting that 12.5 units of alcohol a week – or five glasses of wine – is the upper safe limit.

‘It’s his area, and I am always glad of that when I read reports that say something else is bad for your health,’ he reportedly told NOS. ‘That’s often the case with the joys of life.’

He added that he was not planning to stop using sunbeds himself, despite safety warnings earlier this week from the KWF cancer charity. ‘I have become a minister, not a monk, which means that I have my foibles,’ he said. ‘I like to use a sunbed every now and then. Otherwise you lot will tell me I look bad.’

His own maxim was: all things in moderation, he added. ‘With all of these things, be aware and be moderate. That is the best advice you can give anyone.’

The Lancet story, widely reported in the international and Dutch press, suggested excess drinking was more damaging than previously thought, at lower levels.

But the Dutch health council has already, for the past three years, recommended that people do not drink alcohol at all or limit themselves to a glass a day. (DutchNews)

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