New national recommendations in Canada suggest zero alcohol consumption is the only risk-free approach to drinking, according to a new report from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.
If you choose to drink at all, the report recommends a limit of two drinks maximum each week, which the CCSA deems low-risk. According to the report, consuming more than two drinks per week is considered moderate- or high-risk.
The previous guidelines, published in 2011, recommended a maximum of 15 drinks per week for men and 10 for women, reports CBC.
“The main message from this new guidance is that any amount of alcohol is not good for your health,” said Erin Hobin, a senior scientist with Public Health Ontario and a member of the expert panel that developed the guidelines, per the BBC. “And if you drink, less is better.”
The CCSA reports that alcohol is associated with various risks such as cancer, heart disease, addiction and violence, and that every instance of alcohol consumption increases these risks.
“The risk of negative outcomes begins to increase with any consumption, and with more than two standard drinks, most individuals will have an increased risk of injuries or other problems,” the CCSA report states.
According to the BBC, roughly 80% of Canadian adults consume alcohol.
“The new guidance is maybe a bit shocking, I think it’s very new information for the public that at three standard drinks per week, the risk for head and neck cancers increases by 15%, and further increases with every additional drink,” Hobin said, per the BBC. “Three standard drinks per week to most Canadians wouldn’t be considered a large amount of alcohol.”
What are the recommendations in the U.S.?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends an intake of two drinks or less per day for men and one drink or less per day for women.
The guidelines also report that if you are pregnant or nursing, under the age of 21, are taking medications that can interact with alcohol or recovering from an alcohol-related disease, that you should not drink alcohol at all.
“Emerging evidence suggests that even drinking within the recommended limits may increase the overall risk of death from various causes, such as from several types of cancer and some forms of cardiovascular disease. Alcohol has been found to increase risk for cancer, and for some types of cancer, the risk increases even at low levels of alcohol consumption (less than one drink in a day),” the guidelines state.