Britons told there is no safe level of booze in biggest shake-up for 30 years
Men and women will be told to #drink no more than 14 units a week
Drinking regularly also #raises risk of strokes, heart attack and liver disease
Critics claim officials are using ‘nanny #state’ tactics and ‘scaremongering’
#Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has warned that even small amounts of #alcohol greatly increase the risk of cancer
Dame Sally Davies warned #just one alcoholic drink a day could put you at risk of cancer and other illnesses later in life.
In the biggest shake-up of alcohol advice in 30 years, Britons have been told there is no safe level of drinking booze.
The move by the Chief Medical Officer follows new evidence that even small amounts greatly increase the risk of cancer.
Speaking today, Dame Sally admitted that she ‘likes a glass of wine’ but at the end of a long week we should be drinking something else.
‘What I do when I go home because I believe you do need — many of us — a ritual, is drink a glass of tea, or cup of tea, #instead of a glass of wine and save a glass of wine for a special occasion,’ she said earlier on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
The existing advice was drawn up in 1987, and states that men should not drink more than 21 units a week while women must not exceed 14 units. One unit is less than half a glass of wine or half a pint of beer.
However, critics have hit out at the new advice, claiming officials are using ‘nanny state’ tactics and ‘scaremongering’ the public.
Dame Sally is targeting the middle-class, middle-aged who drink several times a week believing they aren’t causing themselves any harm.
But research shows drinking regularly – even at low levels – also raises the risk of strokes, heart attacks and liver disease.
Today, she went as far as saying the old adage that drinking a glass of red wine a day is good for you is an ‘old wives’ tale’.
The key points of her new advice are:
Men should slash their weekly intake to 14 units – seven pints or seven glasses of wine – bringing them in line with women;
Pregnant women should not drink at all as they may harm their unborn baby;
Everyone should have ‘several’ days off a week to let their livers recover;
Red wine – or any other alcohol – probably doesn’t protect the heart;
Drink slowly, with food, and alternate alcohol with glasses of water;
Don’t binge drink by saving up your 14 units for one heavy night.
Dame Sally said the reason behind the revised guidelines was that science had progressed and the advice needed updating.
She said it was the first comprehensive review of the science in 20 years and had taken the UK ahead of Europe.
‘What that brings is added knowledge, the knowledge of the immediate harms and particularly the long term harms of cancer and how that impacts on our #health,’ she said.
‘Working with experts we have now worked up and are issuing guidelines for low risk drinking which are 14 units in a week spread #over three to four days.’
She said people needed to take into account the clear link between alcohol and cancer.
Speaking on on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Dame Sally Davies suggested people forgo a glass of wine on a Friday night and swap it for a glass a tea, as she revealed the new alcohol #guide
‘My job is to make sure the science is brought together that we have low risk guidelines in place so that people can take their choices,’ she said.
‘Then clinicians – doctors, midwives, nurses – can target individual patients and we can have Public Health England launch campaigns to target specific groups.’
At the end of a long week, drink a cup of tea, instead of a glass of wine – and save a glass of wine for a special occasion Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies
People remained at ‘low risk’ if they drank up to 14 units per week across three or four days, she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
Speaking about the cancer risks, she said: ‘There is no doubt that the more we drink, the bigger our risks.
‘Every year, over 20,000 of people in the UK have a diagnosis of cancer made consequent on drinking alcohol.’
But critics, including Nigel Farage – often seen with a pint in his hand – have rallied against the new advice.
The Ukip leader has called for a mass protest against ‘puritanical’ alcohol consumption guidelines, calling on those who object to make a point of going out for a drink at lunchtime.
Dismissing Dame Sally as ‘some appalling puritanical figure’, Mr Farage told LBC Radio his personal response to being told his drinking could shorten his life was: ‘So what?’
‘I think to basically tell us that any form of drinking is likely to lead to our deaths is just so over the top that we will probably behave in the opposite way. I certainly will, starting at midday today.’
The existing guidelines were tweaked in 1995 to add maximum daily limits of two to three units for women, and three to four for men.
But since then, evidence has emerged linking even small amounts of alcohol to seven different cancers.
They include breast cancer, with research finding that one glass of wine a day can raise a woman’s risk by 13 per cent.
Other cancers connected to alcohol consumption include bowel, liver, oesophagus, larynx, upper throat and mouth.
Research also shows that drinking small amounts, regularly, for ten or 20 years raises the risk of liver disease, heart attacks and strokes.
I think to basically tell us that any form of drinking is likely to lead to our deaths is just so over the top that we will probably behave in the opposite way. I certainly will, starting at midday today. Nigel Farage, Ukip leader
Dame Sally was asked to review the drinking guidelines by the Government in 2012 over concerns they were too lenient and unsafe.
She convened a group of experts including Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, a liver specialist and former president of the Royal College of Physicians, and the Chief Medical Officers of Scotland and Wales.
They have spent the last three years examining 28 pieces of evidence looking at alcohol harm and the public’s behaviour.
Dame Sally said: ‘Drinking any level of alcohol regularly carries a health risk for anyone, but if men and women limit their intake to no more than 14 units a week it keeps the risk of illness like cancer and liver disease low.’
However, some experts were quick to criticise the new guidelines.
Sir David Spiegelhalter, professor of the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge, said: ‘These guidelines define ‘low-risk’ drinking as giving you less than a 1 per cent chance of dying from an alcohol-related condition.
‘So should we feel ok about risks of this level?
‘An hour of TV watching a day, or a bacon sandwich a couple of times a week, is more dangerous to your long-term health.
‘In contrast, an average driver faces #much less than this lifetime risk from a car accident. It all seems to come down to what pleasure you get from moderate drinking.’
NEW GUIDELINES STATE EVEN ONE DRINK A DAY INCREASES THE RISK OF CANCER – AND WE SHOULD DRINK NO MORE THAN 14 UNITS OF ALCOHOL A WEEK. BUT HOW MANY DRINKS DOES THAT TRANSLATE TO?
Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘Alcohol consumption has been falling for a decade.
‘The change to the guidelines will turn hundreds of thousands of people into ‘hazardous drinkers’ overnight thereby reviving the moral panic about drinking in Britain and opening the door to yet more nanny state interventions.’
Rob Lyons, campaigns manager for Action on Consumer Choice, said the guidelines were ‘devoid of common sense.’
He said the suggestion there was no safe level of drinking flies in the face of the weight of studies showing that those who drink moderately have better or similar health outcomes to teetotallers.
The new guidelines seem devoid of common sense. They will be widely ignored by most drinkers but will cause unnecessary alarm for some. Rob Lyons, Action on Consumer Choice
‘The new guidelines seem devoid of common sense. They will be widely ignored by most drinkers but will cause unnecessary alarm for some,’ he said.
‘The real danger is they will be used to justify more nanny state policies, from higher prices and alarmist health warnings to further restrictions on the sale of alcohol.’
Today’s guidelines are a draft and they will be consulted on by other experts before the final version is drawn up later this year.
Figures show a fifth of men and one in ten women drink nearly every day, with the middle-aged and middle-class most likely to fall into this category.
The existing guidelines imply that as long as they stick within the daily or weekly limits, they will not be putting their health at risk. But the new advice stresses that no level of alcohol is ‘safe’, and the only way to avoid the long-term risks is to avoid it completely.
Campaigners described the guidelines as a ‘nanny state’ intervention. Christopher Snowdon, of the Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank, said the Chief Medical Officer had ignored evidence that ‘shows moderate drinking reduces heart disease risk and, most importantly, reduces the overall risk of death’.
However, Professor Jane Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said the advice would ‘help avoid the risks of binge drinking and prevent drinking every day becoming a habit’.
She added: ‘We as a nation need to move to a healthier approach to alcohol to reduce risks to health and life.’
Revealed, the very real health risks of alcohol
The new guidance, from the UK’s chief medical officers, #says that no level of regular drinking is without risk to health.
Men should consume no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, down from the previous 21 units, bringing them into line with the recommendation for women.
People should have several booze-free days a week and not ‘save up’ their 14 units for a binge.
A report informing the new guidance says the risk of getting cancer ‘starts from any level of regular drinking and rises with the amount being drunk’.
Even one drink a day increases the risk of cancer, new guidelines warn. Drinking regularly also raises risk of strokes, heart attack and liver disease
For every 1,000 women who do not drink, 109 will develop breast cancer. This rises to 126 women for those who drink 14 units or less per week, and 153 women for those who drink 14 to 35 units a week.
‘Double the guidelines and you get an extra 50 women getting cancer per 1,000, and on it goes upwards,’ Dame Sally told the Today programme
‘For every cancer – mouth, gullet, bowel, breast – the risks change. The more we drink, the bigger our risk.’
Among non-drinking men, 64 in every 1,000 will develop bowel cancer and this stays the same for those drinking 14 units or less per week, but rises to 85 for those drinking 14 to 35 units per week.
The report said drinking regularly over time can lead to a wide range of illnesses including cancers, strokes, heart disease, liver disease, and damage to the brain and nervous system.
Nevertheless, it says drinking 14 unit or less per week keeps ‘the risk of mortality from cancers or other diseases’ – such as liver disease – low.
The guidelines cast doubt on claims that red wine – which is thought to contain antioxidants – protects the heart
And merlot may NOT help your heart
The new guidelines cast doubt on claims that red wine protects the heart.
For years Britons have been told that one or two glasses a day prevent heart disease.
Red wine is thought to contain antioxidants which slow the ageing process and relax blood vessels.
But Dame Sally said the popular conception that drinking a glass of red wine a day can be good for you is ‘an old wives’ tale.’
‘There’s an old wives’ tale that we were all brought up on – that a glass of red wine protected the heart.
‘What we find with the science and evidence now is that, because of the improvements in heart outcomes, which is a success story in this country because of reducing smoking, controlling cholesterol, controlling blood pressure, that has gone down and then you have a different balance of harms.’
‘If you look at the data, you see for men that they would have to drink extraordinarily little to get an improvement in their long-term mortality, whereas for women, there’s a small group aged over 55 who drink up to five units in the week, there is some protection.
‘But if they drink above five and to this low-risk guideline, they lose that protective impact of the alcohol.’
But the latest advice states it may only be beneficial to women over 55 – not to men. And even then this only applies if it is drunk in small amounts.
The guidance also points out there may not be any benefit at all.
Studies have shown Britons who drink small amounts live longer than teetotallers.
But this may be explained by them being wealthier and in better health.
The Department of Health said researchers at Sheffield University analysed a number of studies showing alcohol only protected the hearts of women over 55.
Even so, this was only for small amounts – less than one unit a day – and they could not be certain it wasn’t due to other reasons such as women drinkers being wealthier and in overall better health.
How the Treasury raises more than £10bn from alcohol each year
The Treasury raises £10.5 billion from alcohol tax every year, figures show.
Academics say this accounts for 40 per cent of the total paid by all countries in the EU.
They claim the duty is far too high compared to other member states and could be halved, while still leaving the Government in profit.
A report last year by the Institute of Economic Affairs suggested that far from being a drain on society, drinkers were subsidising teetotallers.
Although excessive drinking costs the police, NHS and welfare system £4billion a year, this is eclipsed by the £10.5billion raised by taxes, the think-tank said.
Drinking can harm an unborn child and cause learning difficulties or stunted growth
Drinking can harm an unborn child and cause learning difficulties or stunted growth
‘NO safe alcohol limit for pregnant women’
Women who are pregnant or trying for a baby should not have any alcohol at all, the new guidelines state.
Drinking can harm the unborn child and cause learning difficulties or stunted growth.
Existing guidelines imply they can safely have up to four units a week.
But Britain is one of the only countries not to tell expectant mothers to abstain completely.
The new advice stresses if women did happen to drink before finding out they were pregnant, there is little chance they would have harmed their baby.
But they should avoid having any more and if they are worried about a particularly large binging session, speak to their midwife.
Figures show that just over half of women currently carry on drinking during pregnancy.
Source: Daily Mail
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