New national recommendations from Canada say that if people must drink at all, two drinks maximum each week is deemed low-risk by the government-backed guidance, according to the BBC.
The advice is a steep drop from the previous recommendation published in 2011, allowing a maximum of 10 drinks a week for women and 15 drinks for men.
The new report, funded by Health Canada, also suggested mandatory health warning labels for all alcoholic drinks.
According to Erin Hobin, a senior scientist with Public Health Ontario and a member of the expert panel that developed the guidelines: “The main message from this new guidance is that any amount of alcohol is not good for your health,” said .
According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), any more than two standard drinks – each the equivalent of a 12-ounce (350ml; 0.75 pints) serving of 5% alcohol beer or a five-ounce (150ml; 0.26 pints) glass of 12% alcohol wine – brings an increase in negative outcomes, including breast and colon cancer.
“The new guidance is maybe a bit shocking,” Dr Hobin said. “I think it’s very new information for the public that at three standard drinks per week, the risk for head and neck cancers increases by 15%, and further increases with every additional drink.”
Canadian experts say the drastic change in guidance – from nearly two drinks per day to two per week – is the result of better research over time.
How Canada compares with Ireland and rest of world
The new recommendations are in stark contrast with the recommendations from Drinkaware.ie which states that low risk alcohol consumption would be considered 11 standard drinks for women and 17 standard drinks for men a week, with at least two alcohol-free days while the UK suggests no more than 14 “units” of alcohol – around six glasses of wine, or pints of beer – per week
Australia’s national guidance, published in 2020, recommends a maximum of 10 standard drinks a week and France suggests the same.
Similarly, the US recommends no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women.