New alcohol guidelines from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) stipulate Australians should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and four standard drinks a day, for both men and women.
The new alcohol guidelines replace those from 2009 and recommend no alcohol for people under 18 and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Industry body Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) has expressed its disappointment with the new alcohol guidelines. ABA CEO Andrew Wilsmore said while the ABA welcomes guidelines for alcohol, the recommendations must be properly informed, transparent and have credibility with the health community and the public.
“Had the NHMRC not set out to deliberately lower the guidelines it would be advising men they could be consuming up to 20 drinks a week if they spread their drinking out over seven days,” he said.
“This is a missed opportunity for Australians to be fully informed on their risks of drinking alcohol on the number of days they chose to and whether they are male or female.
“Most Australians drink alcohol for enjoyment, relaxation, and sociability, and do so responsibly and alcohol consumption is now at a 50-year low.”
The NHMRC has said it is not telling Australians how much to drink with the new alcohol guidelines.
“We’re providing advice about the health risks so that we can all make informed decisions in our daily lives,” said NHMRC CEO, Professor Anne Kelso.
According to Australia’s acting chief medical officer, Professor Paul Kelly, there are more than 4,000 alcohol-related deaths and 70,000 hospital admissions every year in Australia.
“Alcohol is linked to more than 40 medical conditions, including many cancers,” Professor Kelly said.
“Following the guidelines keeps the risk of harm from alcohol low, but it does not remove all risk. Healthy adults drinking within the guideline recommendations have less than a one in 100 chance of dying from an alcohol-related condition.”