The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) released Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health on January 17, 2023. The focus of the new alcohol and health guidance is to provide accurate and current information about the risks and harms associated with the use of alcohol and to support Canadians to make informed decisions about their alcohol use.
Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health replaces 2011’s Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. The new guidance reflects the most current scientific evidence after two years of research drawn from global studies, mathematical modelling, consultations with the public and experts, and a review of nearly 6,000 peer-reviewed studies and about 1,000 survey submissions from the public. Health Canada funded part of the project to update this guidance.
The new guidance on alcohol and health states that the risk of alcohol-related harms increases with the number of drinks consumed per week and that even small quantities of alcohol can be harmful to health. The new guidance recommends that drinking less alcohol is better. It also states that there is a continuum of risk for alcohol-related harms and the risk is:
- Negligible to low risk when consuming two standard drinks or fewer per week;
- moderate risk for three-to-six standard drinks per week;
- and increasingly high risk beyond six standard drinks per week.
A standard drink is defined as 12 oz. of beer with 5 % alcohol, 5 oz. of wine with 12 % alcohol, or 1.5 oz. of hard liquor with 40 % alcohol. The guidance recommends no alcohol is safest while pregnant and while trying to get pregnant and when breastfeeding.
Alcohol-related harms include seven types of cancers (including breast cancer and colon cancer); heart disease and stroke; liver disease; gastrointestinal bleeding; violence; falls and motor vehicle crashes.
The guidance will support healthcare professionals to help people assess their individual risk of harm from alcohol use. It will also contribute to an evidence base for future alcohol policy and prevention work that reduces the normalization of harmful alcohol use in Canada and promotes public health such as strengthening regulations on alcohol advertising and marketing, increasing restrictions on the physical availability of alcohol and adopting minimum prices for alcohol.
For more information, please refer to CCSA at www.ccsa.ca or refer to hnhu.org or contact the HNHU at 519-426-6170 in Norfolk or 905-318-6623 in Haldimand.