Revision of the Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol

Katherine M. Conigrave, Robert L. Ali, Rebecca Armstrong, Tanya N. Chikritzhs, Peter d’Abbs, Mark F. Harris, Nicole Hewlett, Michael Livingston, Dan I. Lubman, Anne McKenzie, Colleen O’Leary, Alison Ritter, Scott Wilson, Melanie Grimmond, Emily Banks

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Abstract

Introduction: The Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol were released in 2020 by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Based on the latest evidence, the guidelines provide advice on how to keep the risk of harm from alcohol low. They refer to an Australian standard drink (10 g ethanol). 

Recommendations:: •Guideline 1: To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, healthy men and women should drink no more than ten standard drinks a week and no more than four standard drinks on any one day. The less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol. •Guideline 2: To reduce the risk of injury and other harms to health, children and people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol. •Guideline 3: To prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol. For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby. 

Changes as result of the guideline: The recommended limit for healthy adults changed from two standard drinks per day (effectively 14 per week) to ten per week. The new guideline states that the less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol. The recommended maximum on any one day remains four drinks (clarified from previously “per drinking occasion”). Guidance is clearer for pregnancy and breastfeeding, and for people aged less than 18 years, recommending not drinking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-524
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Volume215
Issue number11
Early online dateNov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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