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New guidance on alcohol consumption issued

Posted on the 24th January 2023

Alcohol Consumption

For many, the countdown is on as ‘Dry January’ slowly comes to an end.

For many, the countdown is on as ‘Dry January’ slowly comes to an end.

However, sobering new guidance from The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) may encourage some to continue with the endeavour as they have recommended people consume no more than two alcoholic drinks per week.

While they add that the only safe limit is zero alcohol, two small glasses of wine or a pint and a half of beer a week is now considered by Canadian health experts as low risk.

The new guidelines, funded by Health Canada, represent a dramatic shift from previous recommendations issued in 2011, when Canadians were told that low-risk consumption meant no more than 10 drinks a week for women and 15 drinks a week for men.

The CCSA has warned that even moderate drinking increases numerous serious health risks, including cancer, heart disease and strokes. The organization also identified injuries and violence as negative outcomes of drinking alcohol.

Despite the highlighted health benefits of abstinence, the guidance has been met with skepticism by other health experts.

Professor Dan Malleck described the guidelines as “irresponsible”, and said they risk creating “anxiety and stress” among Canadians who once saw themselves as moderate drinkers but now occupy a “high-risk” category.

“This type of research often marginalizes other considerations of health and wellbeing from alcohol.

“With their job as the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse and Addiction, there’s no space in there for considering there might be benefits. Their job is to find harm.

“The research they’re using also ignores the enjoyment and pleasure and stress relief and collegiality associated with alcohol. None of those things are in the calculation whatsoever,” he said.

The CCSA has also suggested there could be benefits in mandatory labelling of alcoholic beverages – warning of possible health risks and including guidance on consumption standards.

Related: Plant-based diet could cut bowel cancer risk

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