Friday, 27 May 2016

Government reduces weekly target for mens alcohol consumption from 21 units to 14 units a week

New guidance puts male limit in line with women as chief medical officers warn that any amout of alcohol consumption increases cancer risk.

Men have been advised to drink no more than seven pints of beer a week – the same as the maximum limit for women – in the first new drinking guidelines to be released by the UK’s chief medical officers for 20 years.

They also advise there is no safe level of drinking for either sex, and issued a stark warning that any amount of alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing a range of cancers, particularly breast cancer.

Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, said: “Drinking any level of alcohol regularly carries a health risk for anyone, but if men and women limit their intake to no more than 14 units a week it keeps the risk of illness like cancer and liver disease low.”

The new 14-unit recommended maximum is equivalent to a little more than nine small 125ml / 4.5 large 250ml glasses or a bottle and a half of wine; 14 single measures of spirits; seven pints of lager or beer. For women the limit is unchanged, but for men it drops from 21 units.

The UK’s recommended limit for men is now one of the lowest among countries that issue guidance for an appropriate intake of beer, wine and spirits and makes it one of only a handful of countries to issue identical advice for both sexes.

The 14-unit figure is based at a level expected to cause an overall lifetime risk of death due to alcohol of approximately 1%, according to the independent advisory group which formulated it. However, it cautioned that “there is little evidence regarding the impact of any guidelines in changing health behaviours”.

Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk, University of Cambridge, said: “These guidelines define ‘low-risk’ drinking as giving you less than a 1% chance of dying from an alcohol-related condition. So should we feel OK about risks of this level? “An hour of TV watching a day, or a bacon sandwich a couple of times a week, is more dangerous to your long-term health. In contrast, an average driver faces much less than this lifetime risk from a car accident. It all seems to come down to what pleasure you get from moderate drinking.”

The latest Health Survey for England says that 85% of women and 68% of men drank 14 units or fewer a week in 2014, including those who did not drink at all. By comparison, 78% of men drank 21 units a week or fewer.

The guidance also recommends avoiding binge-drinking by spreading the 14 units over three or more days (to avoid drunken injuries as well as long-term illness) and says everyone should have “several” alcohol free days a week.

The guidance was published on the same day as the latest findings by the Committee on Carcinogenicity, which state that the risk of cancer increases with the more alcohol a person drinks. Even an intake of fewer than 10.5 units a week (or 1.5 a day) gives an increased risk of cancer of the mouth, throat and gullet and – in women – breast cancer.

The changes are based on evidence, unavailable in 1995 when the previous guidance was published, which also suggests the protective effect of alcohol against conditions such as ischaemic heart disease is weaker than previously believed.

Separately, an independent review of evidence, which formed the basis for the new advice, found that the benefits of alcohol for heart health only apply for women aged 55 and over and the greatest benefits is seen when they limit their intake to around five units a week, equivalent to around two standard glasses of wine.

reposted from:


Government Guidelines: which says:
"This advice on regular drinking is based on the evidence that if people did drink at or above the low risk level advised, overall any protective effect from alcohol on deaths is overridden, and the risk of dying from an alcohol-related condition would be expected to be around, or a little under, 1% over a lifetime. This level of risk is comparable to risks from some other regular or routine activities, such as driving."

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