Trevor McDonald health: Former news host on binge drinking – ‘It’s never just a glass’

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The journalist who retired twice, once in 2005 and then again in 2008 after returning to present the relaunch of ITV’s News at Ten is expected by many to be the model of sobriety. Being knighted in 1999 for his services to the industry he built up a respectable image. But in an interview with Decanter magazine he revealed his surprising and health threatening habit.

Before heading to bed the presenter admitted that he can easily sink a bottle of wine. He said: “The problem with that is that it’s never just a glass, I get home at 11pm and then look at my watch and it is approaching midnight and I’m on my fourth glass.”

If he was not on the evening shift, the presenter said that he would drink increasingly more and more: “I discovered how quickly your stocks dwindle when you’re home in the evenings.”

Despite his ongoing love of alcoholic beverages, McDonald admitted that his lifestyle has drastically calmed down over the years. He said that in 1973 it was “normal for staff to spend hours in the pub.”

“There was a bar across the street and most people could be found there day and night.

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“My co-anchor Reggie Bosanquet had to be dragged out at five minutes to 10 and persuaded to sit down. How we used to carry on working I’ll never know.”

Although as far as we know, McDonald was not one guilt of presenting while under the influence he stated in the Evening Standard that despite being aware of how much he drinks he is not giving up any time soon.

The 82-year-old said: “There’s an auction at Sotheby’s I’m planning to attend. I’ve been salivating over the catalogue for days.

“I buy at the higher end of the scale. I’ve decided that’s the thing I want to spend my money on. I’m very much a Burgundy man.”

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The NHS defines binge drinking as “drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk”.

Officially, the National Statistics for binge drinking is having over eight units in a single session for men and over six units for women.

For men this is equivalent to four pints of four percent beer or four 175ml glasses of wine. For women it is three glasses of the same drinks.

In addition to this, the UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) low-risk drinking guidelines recommend that to keep the risk from alcohol low both men and women should not regularly drink more than 14 units a week. If you do choose to drink, it is best to spread your drinks evenly throughout the week.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that it is individuals aged between 25-34 who are most likely to binge drink, closely followed by 18-24-year olds and is twice as common among men than women.

Binge drinking is dangerous as it can raise your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) making you drunk extremely quickly.

The type of illnesses you can develop after 10 to 20 years of regularly drinking more than 14 units a week include:

  • Cancers of the mouth, throat and breast
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Brain damage
  • Damage to the nervous system.

There is also evidence to suggest that regular drinking at high-risk levels can make your mental health worse. Research has found strong links between alcohol misuse and self-harming, including suicide.

By binge drinking you are also endangering your health and life in the short-term. Most often the results of binge drinking include the following:

  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns
  • Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence
  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels
  • Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women.

In order to cut down the NHS provides some helpful tips. This includes cutting back on the drink a little each day, or still enjoying a drink but making it smaller than usual.

The benefits of cutting down will be immediate and long-term. Immediate health benefits include:

  • Feeling better in the mornings
  • Being less tired during the day
  • Better looking skin
  • Feeling more energetic
  • Better weight management.

Longer-term health improvements affects your mood, sleep, behaviour, heart and immune system.

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