Posted: Fri 8th Jan 2016

New alcohol guidelines – men’s weekly limit cut to equivalent of 6 pints of beer per week

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jan 8th, 2016

Tough new guidelines on drinking alcohol have been published by UK Chief Medical Officers.

The new measures see men advised to drink no more than 14 units per week, down from the previous recommendation of 28 units and inline with guidelines for women.

This means a typical British adult should drink no more than six pints of beer or five standard size (175 ml) glasses of wine a week, and are advised to spread drinking them over three or more days.

It’s the biggest change to UK alcohol guidelines since a detailed review of previous advice published in 1995 – the revised limits come on the back of latest scientific evidence.

Work on the review has been led by a panel of experts in public health and behavioural science.

Experts now say it’s known that the risks start from any level of regular drinking and increase with the amount being drunk, and the new guidelines are aimed at keeping the risk of mortality from cancers or other diseases low.

The links between alcohol and cancer were not fully understood in the original guidelines, which came out in 1995.

This review also found that the benefits of alcohol for heart health only apply for women aged 55 and over.

The greatest benefit is seen when these women limit their intake to around 5 units a week, the equivalent of around 2 standard glasses of wine.

The group concluded that there is no justification for drinking for health reasons.

Nanny State.

Critics have attacked the ‘nanny state’ guidelines saying the change will turn hundreds of thousands of people into ‘hazardous drinkers overnight.

The change will revive the “moral panic about drinking in Britain and opening the door to yet more nanny state interventions” said Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

The new guidelines include:

  • a single guideline for men and women: This will now be 14 units a week for both men and women
  • a recommendation not to ‘save up’ 14 units for one or two days – but instead to spread them over three or more days
  • that the ‘protective effect’ is less significant than  previously thought – i.e. one or two glasses of red wine does not prevent you from getting heart disease, as is often reported
  • there is no ‘safe’ level amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy; and
  • advice on single episodes of drinking.


The review found new evidence on the risks of cancer, even from low levels of drinking, and that the benefits of alcohol for heart health are less significant than previously thought.

The 14-unit limit has been chosen because, at that point, your drinking leads to a 1% risk of dying from alcohol-related causes.

Dr Ruth Hussey, Chief Medical Officer for Wales, said:

“The UK Chief Medical Officers have taken recommendations from alcohol experts to update the advice.

“The previous advice is now twenty years old and these new guidelines draw on the latest evidence on how different levels of drinking affect health risks for individuals. The new guidelines are there for people to make informed decisions about their drinking, to make it as easy as possible to make healthy choices and to keep the risk of cancer and liver disease low.

“We have launched a consultation on the wording of the guidelines, and whether there should be a guideline based on a number of units for single episodes of drinking. I want to encourage individuals, communities and stakeholder groups to take the opportunity to provide their views.”

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