While we’ve been told that having a couple beers a day is okay, and won’t affect our health, researchers are saying that the current thresholds for safer alcohol use may need to be lowered.
According to professors Wayne Hall and Jason Connor from the University of Queensland’s Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research, guidelines for safe alcohol use need to be lowered following a global study which spanned 5 decades and analysed the alcohol use of 599,912 drinkers in over 19 countries.
The study, co-authored by over 100 academics worldwide, found that excessive alcohol consumption was linked to higher risks of stroke, coronary disease, heart failure, aortic aneurysm, and fatal levels of high blood pressure while drinking no more than 10 standard drinks a week, increased life expectancy.
“Around half of people in the study reported drinking more than 100 grams (or 10 standard drinks) of alcohol per week and almost 10 per cent drank more than 350 grams per week.
“The study suggests that reductions in alcohol consumption could increase life expectancy by up to two years in a 40-year-old drinker.
“However, this gain in life expectancy is only seen when alcohol consumption is below 100 grams per week.”
At the moment alcohol consumption guidelines in Australia are in line with international guidelines, no more than 140 grams per week are the suggested limit. That equates to 14 standard drinks, or around 2 standard drinks a day.
The study suggests that lowering the alcohol consumption guidelines is necessary globally, and that the recommended limit should be no more than 100 grams a week.
“The study supports an adoption of lower limits of alcohol consumption than are recommended in most current guidelines across the globe – 100 grams per week maximum,” Professor Hall said.
“These recommended drinking levels will no doubt be described as implausible and impracticable by the alcohol industry and other opponents of public health warnings on alcohol.
“Nonetheless, the findings ought to be widely disseminated and they should provoke informed public and professional debate.”
Locally the National Health and Medical Research Council is currently undertaking a revision of the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol 2009.
Until the council has completed their review, we should stick to the current recommendations to avoid alcohol harm. The responsible service of alcohol is a key component of minimising alcohol harm throughout Australia, including long term health affects and short term risks.
Under Responsible Service of Alcohol law, selling or serving alcohol to a person who is visibly intoxicated is an offence. To learn more about the law and how to complete mandatory Responsible Service of Alcohol training click here.