A Canadian Study Warns that the Only Safe Way to Drink Alcohol Is… Not to Drink It!

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    A document, commissioned by the Health Ministry of Canada, points out that any amount of alcoholic beverages ingested carries risks. Its authors recommend to the Government a new approach to encourage the population to drink less

    The sporadic beer to follow football on television or the digestive that puts an end to Sunday meals are not without risks. This is one of the main conclusions of the report presented by the Canadian Center on Substance Consumption and Dependencies, a document prepared at the request of the Canadian Ministry of Health. “Science evolves and recommendations on alcohol consumption must change. Research tells us that there is no one type or amount of alcohol that is good for your health”, the document states.

    The Canadian Center on Substance Dependencies and Consumption (CCSA) thus warns that the only way to not face alcohol-related health risks is zero consumption. The latest recommendations from the Ministry, dating from 2011 and taking into account the advice issued that year by the CCSA, limit intake to a maximum of 15 standard drinks per week for men and 10 for women. However, the report made public this Tuesday places 1 or 2 per week as a slight risk, while the moderate and highest risk are established, respectively, at 3 to 6 per week and 7 drinks or more.

    The CCSA defines as a standard drink a 341 milliliter beer, a 142 milliliter glass of wine or a 42 milliliter glass of liquor with 40% alcohol. The report especially highlights the risks related to breast and colon cancer, as well as cardiovascular problems; it also mentions the number of deaths and injuries from accidents. Experts warn that “a good part of the Canadian population is already at a risk level”: 17% consume between 3 and 6 drinks a week, while 40% exceed that amount. Australian authorities, for example, recommend a maximum of 10 per week. In the United States, the suggestion is not to exceed 2 a day for men and 1 for women.

    In this way, the report proposes to the Canadian authorities a kind of guidance on each level of risk instead of suggested maximum amounts. It also puts other elements into consideration in order to reduce alcohol consumption. One of them is a mandatory labeling that more pronouncedly indicates its health risks, in addition to including the number of standard drinks per container.

    The Canadian Cancer Society, which applauds the report, has long called on the government to force cancer-producing companies to add such information to labels. A survey carried out in February 2022 showed that 80% of those consulted are in favor of the measure. The Educ’alcool organization also supports the proposal. Its general director, Geneviève Desautels, stated that it is essential to “inform, raise awareness and provide tools to the population”.

    “Alcohol and health benchmarks call for a cultural shift”, the report cites, “to raise awareness and help better manage risk”. The Ministry of Health of Canada appreciated the work of the CCSA experts, indicating that it reviews the document in detail and noting that alcohol consumption represents a significant problem for communities in the country.

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