Adults should not drink more than 10 standard drinks a week and keep it at four on any given day in order to reduce the risk of alcohol-related health issues, according to new national guidelines.
That’s a reduction from the previous weekly limit of 14 standard drinks, set in 2009.
Developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the advice takes into account the latest scientific findings on the health impacts of alcohol.
There are three guidelines in total, the first relating to adults while the second says people under the age of 18 should not drink any alcohol in order to reduce the risk of injury and other harm.
The third is targeted at pregnant or breastfeeding women, saying it’s safest to not drink alcohol for the health of babies.
Women who are trying to conceive should not drink alcohol either.
There are more than 4000 alcohol-related deaths and 70,000 hospital admissions in Australia each year.
Alcohol is linked to more than 40 medical conditions, including cancers.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly says following the guidelines doesn’t remove all risk.
“Healthy adults drinking within the guideline recommendations have less than a one-in-100 chance of dying from an alcohol-related condition,” Professor Kelly said.
The guidelines will underpin health messaging and policy for years until they are next updated.
NHMRC chief Anne Kelso stresses authorities aren’t telling Australians how much to drink.
“We’re providing advice about the health risks so that we can all make informed decisions in our daily lives.”
The updated guidelines have been welcomed by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, saying evidence shows the less people drink the lower their risk is of injuries, illnesses, dependence and diseases such as cancer.
“The new guidelines will play a particularly important role for those Australians wanting to reduce their alcohol consumption after their drinking habits may have changed since the outbreak of COVID-19,” foundation chief Erin Lalor said.
Alcohol Beverages Australia is unhappy the guidelines advise adults to drink less, pointing out booze consumption is at a 50-year low.
“We welcome guidelines, but they must be properly informed and transparent,” the group’s chief Andrew Wilsmore said.
The industry body wants the guidelines to differ depending on sex, arguing men could drink up to 20 beverages a week if spread out over seven days.
WHAT IS A STANDARD DRINK?
* 100ml of wine
* 285ml of full strength beer or cider
* 425ml of light beer
* 375ml of mid strength beer
* 30ml of spirits
(Source: Australia and New Zealand food standards code)