United Kingdom: UK Reviewing Alcohol Intake Guidelines
The Drinks Business
By Neal Baker
July 1, 2015
Health officials are to review the government’s drinking guidelines with research linking moderate drinking to cancer leading to increased pressure from medics.
The government’s official drinking recommendation, in place since 1995, states that men should limit themselves to no more than 28 units of alcohol per week, and women should consume no more than 21. Typically, a pint of lager or a medium-sized glass of wine has around two units.
But now the Department of Health has revealed the chief medical officer is reviewing the recommended drinking limit, and new guidelines are expected to be published later this year, according to reports.
The limit faces being cut dramatically as doctors and health charities cite what they claim to be mounting evidence apparently showing the damage caused by even moderate drinking.
Katherine Brown, director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, told The Daily Mirror that the UK will follow the lead of other countries and cut its limit. She said, “Both Canada and Australia reviewed their drinking guidelines recently and, based on the latest available evidence, set lower limits for regular alcohol consumption than the current UK weekly guidelines.
“This would suggest there is good reason to revise the UK guidelines downwards,” she said.
Hinting that the government could recommend that people cut out drinking altogether, Brown continued, “The World Health Organisation advises there is no safe level of drinking for cancer prevention so we would expect our guidelines to include this information so that consumers are able to make informed decisions about their drinking.”
Dr Kieran Moriarty, a consultant gastroenterologist and spokesman on alcohol for the British Society for Gastroenterology said recent findings involving a set of twins engaging in a four-week drinking experiment were a “game changer”.
The experiment was featured on a recent BBC programme, and showed one twin drinking the recommended 28 units per week spread out over all seven days, and the other twin drinking all 28 units in one day, once a week.
The consultant leading the experiment said that both men showed strong signs of ill-health and organ inflammation, not just the binge-drinking twin.
Dr Moriarty warned, “One unit a day or less than one unit a day is associated with an increased risk and the cancer that is seen as the most sensitive is breast cancer.”
He continued, “Alcohol is associated with cancers elsewhere and there is generally no safe level… I’m pretty sure the sensible limits will be scaled down.”