Adults in Australia are being warned to drink no more than 10 drinks per week in a report published by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
It is the first time in 10 years Australia has updated its alcohol consumption guidelines, which previously advised two drinks a day, or 14 a week, was safe.
“We recommend that healthy men and women reduce the risk of harm by drinking no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than four standard drinks on any one day,” according to the new guidelines.
A standard drink contains roughly 10 grams of alcohol or the equivalent volume of one glass of wine.
It took the the medical research council three years of robust research to update the harms or benefits related to drinking alcohol.
“For some people, not drinking at all is the safest option.”Anne Kelso, report author
The report says that the risk of alcohol-related disease or harm significantly drops when consumption is kept low. However, the report isn’t saying that two drinks per day is safe, only that the risk is acceptable.
The author of the report, Anne Kelso, said the researchers are not telling people how to drink, but instead she is offering advice.
“We are not saying this is a level that completely eliminates risk. The less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of alcohol-related harm,” Kelso said.
“For some people, not drinking at all is the safest option.”
The report also recommends that adolescents younger than 18 should have zero alcohol intake because it can harm brain development and increase the risk of injury. Women who are pregnant or planning on having a baby are also advised to refrain from drinking.
“We need to keep in mind that while the risk of harm to the fetus is likely to be slight when the mother drinks small amounts of alcohol (less than one standard drink per day) there is not enough evidence to know for sure whether the fetus will be safe from harm, even at this low amount of alcohol,” Kelso said.
“In 2017, there were more than 4,000 alcohol-related deaths in Australia. Alcohol is linked to more than 60 medical conditions, particularly numerous cancers,” the report said.
“If all Australians follow these guidelines, we won’t stop every alcohol-related death, but we will save thousands of lives, especially younger lives.”
The guidelines are currently in a draft and will be open for public discussion until February 24, 2020.