New Australian alcohol guidelines released

Australian Associated Press

16/12/2019 1:27:16 PM

New Federal Government draft guidelines recommend having no more than four standard drinks on any one day, and no more than 10 in a week. 

Friends drinking alcohol
The new draft guidelines ‘reflect the best available science’.

The previous weekly guideline set in 2009 was 14 standard drinks in a week. 

The guidelines were released for public consultation by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) on Monday. 

NHMRC chief executive Professor Anne Kelso says the guidelines aim to reduce the health risks of alcohol consumption.

‘We’re not telling Australians how much to drink,’ she said in a statement on Monday.

‘We’re providing advice about the health risks from drinking alcohol so that we can all make informed decisions in our daily lives.

‘This advice has been developed over the past three years using the best health evidence available."

University of Sydney Professor Kate Conigrave says the new draft guidelines reflect the best available science. 

‘The biggest change is there is more evidence that the risk of cancer can go up from fairly low levels of drinking,’ she told reporters on Monday. 

About 25% of Australians would drink more than four standard drinks on an occasion, although this number was decreasing, Professor Conigrave said. 

‘In terms of daily drinking above the recommended limits, the number who are drinking regularly above those limits has been gradually coming down,’ she said.

The guidelines recommend those younger than 18 don’t drink at all, and that women who are pregnant or planning to have a baby avoid alcohol.

‘The less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of alcohol-related harm. ​For some people, not drinking at all is the safest option,’ Professor Kelso said.

The Federal Government’s chief medical officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, says the 2019 guidelines could save thousands of lives.

‘They do represent an opportunity to change the behaviour of certain members of our community who want to keep drinking but reduce their alcohol intake to reduce their health risks,’ he told reporters. 

‘They are incredibly thoughtful guidelines. I would strongly encourage the public to read them and to adhere to them.’

The guidelines would also risk the burden of Australia's health system, Professor Murphy said.  

‘They will help me and every chief medical officer in the states and territories to provide clear messages about the risks of drinking alcohol, to ensure the health of all Australians,’ he 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.’

Australian Associated Press

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