New alcohol advice from the U.K.

Jan 08, 2016, 6:22 PM EST
Source: Steven Guzzardi/flickr
Source: Steven Guzzardi/flickr
New guidelines for drinking alcohol have come out of the U.K. Medical officers say that new research shows that any amount of alcohol can increase the risk of cancer, and that men and women who drink regularly should not consume more than 14 units a week: six pints of beer or seven glasses of wine. The BBC reports:
The guidance marks the first full review of alcohol guidelines since 1995, although updated advice on drinking in pregnancy and for young people was published in 2007 and 2009 respectively.
In relation to pregnant women, the new guidelines bring the rest of the UK in line with Scotland and recommend that pregnant women should not drink at all.
It marks a subtle shift from previous guidance for people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland which, while suggesting they should not drink, said that if they did, it should be no more than one or two units of alcohol once or twice a week, and they should not get drunk.
The previous regulations suggested that men consume no more than approximately nine medium glasses of wine or pints of “strong” beer a week; the weekly consumption limits for women were unchanged.
The report says that drinking within the recommended new limits has risks comparable to “regular or routine activities, such as driving.”
To reduce the risk of death from long-term illnesses, accidents and injuries, medical chiefs suggest spreading the units evenly over three days or more rather than bingeing.
The guidelines also recommend that pregnant women should refrain from drinking altogether, a shift from previous guidelines suggesting a small amount of alcohol was not harmful.
The government said it made the revisions to the guidance because there is now evidence that the risks associated with alcohol “start from any level of regular drinking and increase with the amount being drunk.” It added that the links between alcohol and cancer weren’t fully understood in the original guidelines, published in 1995.
Those earlier guidelines recommended a daily rather than weekly limit and gave different advice for men and women. The earlier guidelines recommended a maximum intake of three to four units a day for men, and two to three for women.
The government also reversed advice issued in 1995 that small amounts of alcohol can protect coronary health. A report accompanying the new guidelines said the evidence supporting protective effects is now weaker than it was at the time of the 1995 advice.