Australian draft guidelines on the safe consumption of alcohol have been amended, with the nation’s peak medical research body now saying it’s safest to consume fewer than ten standard drinks per week – a huge reduction from the previous threshold of 14 standard drinks per week.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) today announced an update to the official guidelines, capping off three years of research into the public health issue.
Citing new research into alcohol’s health effects over a lifetime and its links to a number of cancers, the organisation says it’s best to stay within that ten-a-week threshold.
The short-term risks of drinking are also addressed in the new findings, which state that drinking fewer than four drinks at any one time is your best chance to dodge any immediate issues.
“The less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of alcohol-related harm,” the NHMRC states.
“For some people not drinking at all is the safest option.”
— NHMRC Advice (@nhmrcadvice) December 16, 2019
The NHMRC also took particular notice of young Australians, confirming “There is no clear ‘safe‘ or ‘no-risk’ level of drinking alcohol for children and young people under 18 years due to the increased risk of injury, the risk of adversely affecting brain development and the risk of alcohol-related harm later in life.
“To reduce these risks children and young people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol.”
That guideline stands in contrast with prevailing theories about the early and ‘safe’ introduction of alcohol.
However, the NHMRC states that if young people are to drink, they should stick to fewer than one standard drink today, and should drink in a safe environment – preferably under the watch of a parent or other responsible adult guardian.
Professor Kate Conigrave, chair of the NHMRC Alcohol Working Committee, told PEDESTRIAN.TV the guidelines reflected an understanding of Australia’s “pattern of heavy episodic drinking,” more commonly known as binge drinking.
Professor Tanya Chikritzhs, a member of the NHMRC Alcohol Working Committee, said the research was “specific and tailored to the Australian population”, including young Australians.
The guidelines are now open to a public consultation period. If you’d like to have your say on the matter, you can do so here.