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Alcohol Should Be Restricted To 10 Drinks A Week, Says New Guidelines

Hannah Blackiston


Alcohol Should Be Restricted To 10 Drinks A Week, Says New Guidelines

It's bad news for the sesh: Revised guidelines from the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) say we should be restricting the number of drinks we consume to 10 per week.

The choice to release this info as the silly season kicks off feels deliberate and cruel.

The Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol were released in 2020 by the National Health and Medical Research Council and have since been reviewed in an article in the MJA this week.

In the document, there are clear suggestions on what a healthy level of drinking involves.

Bob Kreisel / Alamy Stock Photo
Bob Kreisel / Alamy Stock Photo

The top guideline from the report is that 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 on one day.

Fast forward to me calculating how many drinks I had last Saturday...

The MJA went on to urge that the less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol.

Previously, the guidelines stated two standard drinks per day were acceptable, making it fourteen in a week.

The guidelines also stated that people under 18 years and pregnant people should not drink any alcohol.

Paula Solloway / Alamy Stock Photo
Paula Solloway / Alamy Stock Photo

According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, alcohol contributes 4.5 per cent of the 'burden of disease and injury' in Australia and is the lead contributor at age 15-44.

Consuming 14 standard drinks on a single day increases the risk of acute harm, which includes injury and heart rhythm problems, far more than two per day over a week. The main takeaway there - binge drinking is not the go.

The guidelines have been updated following strengthened evidence linking alcohol to the risk of cancer, even at lower levels of consumption.

Kate Conigrave, a chair of the Alcohol Working Committee, said previous information on light drinking as a preventative measure hasn't been proven.

"Some studies mentioned suggested a possible protective effect of low-level consumption of alcohol, in particular against coronary heart disease," she said in a piece for The Conversation.

"These issues were scrutinised by our committee. The evidence for a protective effect has been challenged by research in recent years. Some researchers dispute its existence."

Harm related to drinking results in more than 4,000 deaths per year, according to ABS data, and 70,000 hospital admissions every year.

At least there's an upside in this news. According to the 2021 IWSR Drinks Market Analysis' No- and Low-Alcohol Strategic Study, no- and low-alcohol volume in Australia increased by 2.9 per cent in 2020.

The IWSR forecasts that the no- and low-alcohol volume in Australia will grow by 16 per cent from 2020 to 2024.

So we might not be able to get on the wines over Christmas, but at least there's plenty of no-alcohol options to quench the holiday thirst.

Featured Image Credit: Roman Lacheev / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: News, Drinking, Australia

Hannah Blackiston
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