Canadians are being told to limit their drinking to just two drinks a week, according to new guidelines from leading government advisers.
The Canada Center on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) advised Tuesday that the country’s 38 million residents drink no more than two standard drinks a week. This was a big drop from ten drinks a week for women and 15 for men.
Experts were quick to dismiss the guidance as “worse than useless,” saying it “neglected” the benefits of drinking. Some feared that the exaggerated guidelines were so ridiculous that people wouldn’t follow them, and had eroded trust in health officials.
Canada’s advice also conflicts with that of many other countries, including the US, which says women can have a maximum of seven standard drinks per week and men 14. In Australia, the guideline allows as many as 11 bottles of beer per week. It comes after a World Health Organization official warned earlier this week that no amount of alcohol is safe.
The above shows the maximum weekly recommended alcohol intake by country. The standards were compared to Canada, which considers a standard alcoholic beverage to be a 12 oz bottle of beer or a 5 oz glass of wine. This is the same size used in the US
Dr. Erin Hobin, a senior scientist with the Canadian agency behind the guidance, told the BBC: ‘The new guidance may be a bit shocking.
‘[But] the main message of this new guideline is that any amount of alcohol is not good for your health. And when you drink, less is better.”
She added: “I think it’s very new information to the public that three standard drinks a week increases the risk of head and neck cancer by 15 percent and increases further with each additional drink.”
However, experts were quick to reject the move with Dr. Dan Malleck, a professor of health sciences at Brock University in Ontario, who said: “[This guidance] is not useless, it is worse than useless. It will probably do damage.’
He added: “It will cause worry, anxiety and stress, all of which are strongly associated with health damage.”
When asked if this would lead to more people ignoring Canadian health guidelines, he said, “Some people will ignore the recommendations and others will be concerned.”
The chart above has been published by the Canadian health authorities to show how many drinks they consider moderate or high risk
The above shows the standard size for a drink in Canada
The CCSA considers a standard alcoholic beverage to be approximately a 12 oz bottle of beer or a 5 oz glass of wine.
It now says having one or two drinks a week is “low risk” for Canadians.
But drinking three to six times a week puts people at a “moderate risk” of health problems.
Increasing this to seven or more drinks per week put people at “increasingly high risk,” the group says.
This means that an average Canadian is advised not to drink at all or, if they do, limit it to a maximum of one to two drinks per week.
The group updated the guidelines in a 90-page report reviewed by two dozen scientists, who claimed to have reviewed more than 6,000 different studies.
However, other experts were quick to poke holes in the methodology, saying only 16 papers from the same line of thought were looked at.
The CCSA report was concerned about seven different cancers it said could be associated with drinking.
Breast and colon cancer topped the list, followed by cancer of the rectum, mouth and throat, liver, esophagus and larynx.
Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of the disease in Canada.
Doctors say the main risk factors for the disease are being older, having a family history of breast cancer, obesity and starting menstruation at a younger age.
The report likely sent a shock wave through Canada today, alarming many residents that they may have been drinking at unsafe levels.
When asked about the guidelines in central London, Ontario, student Hailey told Frank today CBC“It’s certainly worrying. I feel like most people, when they drink, have more than two drinks, especially university students.”
But others were more dismissive of the measures.
Dr. Dan Malleck, a public health expert at Brock University, said the guidance was “worse than useless”
Another student, Cheryl Mason, told the publication, “I don’t think it’s going to stop anyone anyway. My grandparents drink more than two drinks a week at least, and that’s fine.’
Resident Wayne White added, “I have mixed feelings about that because I live with my grandparents, who drink wine every day. They’re 97.’
Experts were quick to dismiss the guidelines, saying it was “irresponsible” and “ignored” the benefits of drinking alcohol.
Dr. Malleck told DailyMail.com: “I know people who are already concerned about their alcohol consumption as a result of these guidelines, and are especially concerned that they have already exceeded safe limits for a lifetime.
“So it will cause worry, anxiety and stress, all of which are strongly associated with health damage.”
he added TwitterI don’t have to tell you about your life, but alcohol animates many lives in many positive ways.
“We celebrate achievements, mark occasions, bring wine to parties, meet friends, commiserate, relax, let off steam… these are important activities and are part of the texture and tone of many lives.
“I’m not saying you have to drink to enjoy life, but many people find it fun and enjoyable.”
Canada’s new guidelines are well below recommendations for other countries.
In the UK, health authorities say people should not drink more than six pints or six glasses of wine per week.
This is equivalent to about 10 bottles of beer by Canada’s standard beer standard, or seven glasses of wine. Britain considers a beer to be about 16 oz, while wine costs 6 oz.
In Australia, health authorities say that people should not drink more than 10 glasses a week. This was equivalent to about 11 beers or seven glasses of wine compared to the Canadian benchmark.
France also says people should not drink more than 10 beers or glasses of wine per week. But by Canadian standards, this equates to about seven bottles of beer or seven glasses of wine per week.
The US, which uses the same measurements as Canada, says it’s safe for women to drink 10 bottles of beer or glasses of wine a week. Men are allowed 15 of each.
The Canada Beer trade organization slammed Canada’s move and called for an expert panel to review the agency’s work.
A spokeswoman added: ‘Responsible, moderate consumption can be part of a balanced lifestyle for most adults of legal drinking age.
“However, overconsumption and alcohol abuse should be avoided as they are associated with increased health risks that have long been well known.”
About two-thirds of Canadians drink alcohol, estimates suggest.
By comparison, in the US, about 70 percent of people say they drink alcohol.
The CCSA also has strict guidelines on marijuana use – which is legal in Canada – and recommends using the drug no more than once a week.
Booze is now responsible for one-fifth of deaths among adults under 50, the CDC report finds
Alcohol consumption is linked to as many as one in five deaths in the U.S. from all causes, according to an official study — with Plains states having the highest mortality.
Research led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that between 2015 and 2019, there were about 90,000 deaths among adults ages 20 to 65, with alcohol being an underlying or contributing cause.
Alcohol was responsible for 12 percent of all-cause deaths over the five-year period. When reduced to ages 20 to 49, alcohol accounted for 20.3 percent of deaths.
Causes of death attributable to alcohol consumption include alcoholic liver disease, poisoning, motor vehicle accidents, homicides, cirrhosis, and hypertension.
The numbers exclude the period of the Covid pandemic, when reams of studies suggest binge drinking has increased due to boredom and economic hardship.
Alcohol consumption is the leading cause of preventable death in the US.