Alcohol guidelines revised

According to revised alcohol guidelines, adults should be limiting their alcohol consumption to no more than 10 standard drinks a week.

These guidelines have been revised from a previous recommendation advising people to limit their alcohol intake to a maximum of 14 standard drinks per week.

The revised guidelines also recommend that women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid alcohol entirely, as should anyone under the age of 18 years.

A guideline summary, which has been published in the Medical Journal of Australia reviews the reasoning and evidence behind the revised recommendations.

The authors of the article include the members of the national committee responsible for revising these guidelines on alcohol consumption.

The authors set out a summary of the rigorous four-year process of evidence review that underpinned the finished product.

They describe the current guidelines, including how and why they differ from the previous, 2009, guidelines.

That extensive evidence review considered both health harms and potential health benefits of drinking alcohol.

The guidelines now state unequivocally that for healthy adults “the less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol”.

This statement was added “to clarify that any level of drinking can convey some risk of harm”, wrote the authors of the summary, led by Professor Katherine Conigrave, a Senior Staff Specialist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, and the University of Sydney.

The three recommendations are:

Guideline 1: “To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than four standard drinks on any one day. The less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol.”

Guideline 2: “To reduce the risk of injury and other harms to health, children and people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol.”

Guideline 3: “To prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol. For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby.”

“Furthermore, individuals with health conditions are again advised to seek medical advice on drinking.

“For pregnancy, breastfeeding and people aged under 18 years, the guidance not to drink alcohol was made clearer,” they say.

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