The U.K. Chief Medical Officers have advised consumers to drink less than 6 pints of beer per week under new guidelines for alcoholic beverage intake. Revising previous standards that set weekly limits at 21 units of alcohol for men and 14 units for women, the updated recommendations urge all consumers to imbibe fewer than 14 units weekly and warn that drinking even a moderate amount of beer, wine or spirits on a regular basis allegedly raises the risk of developing certain cancers. They also caution individuals to spread consumption over three or more days instead of engaging in “binge” drinking sessions.
“Drinking any level of alcohol regularly carries a health risk for anyone, but if men and women limit their intake to no more than 14 units a week it keeps the risk of illness like cancer and liver disease low,” said Chief Medical Officer of England Sally Davies in a January 8, 2016, press release. “What we are aiming to do with these guidelines is give the public the latest and most up to date scientific information so that they can make informed decisions about their own drinking and the level of risk they are prepared to take.”
Meanwhile, a January 13 editorial published in Nature describes the new guidelines as “a sound example of evidence-based policymaking,” calling out Britain’s “curious relationship with alcohol” and praising David Bowie for his decision to forgo alcohol in his later years. As the article concludes, “The statement that there is no ‘safe’ level of alcohol consumption is a solid one… And—contrary to the legion of newspaper stories—the minor health benefits of drinking are realized only by women over the age of 55, and then only at very low consumption levels… Decades hence, society may look back at today’s acceptance and even celebration of alcohol and shake its collective head in the same way that we now view the acceptance of tobacco smoking, or the use of opium as a tonic.”