Toronto: New guidelines from Canadian health authorities have warned that drinking even more than a couple of pegs a week could increase the risk of alcohol-related diseases, including cancer, and other risks.
“The latest evidence shows a direct link between drinking alcohol and increased risk of at least seven types of cancer. Recent evidence, contrary to common perceptions, shows that modest consumption of alcohol offers no protective effects against heart diseases, while regular and heavy consumption of alcohol increases the risk of these conditions,” a statement on Wednesday from Canada’s Chief Medical Officers of Health, a group that also includes the country’s Chief Public Health Officer, asserted.
Their joint statement came in the wake of the release of the document Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Heath by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA).
These are the first updates, based on newer research and data, since the Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines were issued in 2011.
The new guidelines state that the risk from weekly consumption of alcohol is low for those who have two standard drinks or less during that period, moderate for those having between three and six drinks, and “increasingly high” for those having seven or more per week.
Previous guidelines suggested that women cap their drinking to 10 or less each week and men to 15. A standard drink is defined as 17.05 ml of pure alcohol, or about a bottle of beer, a glass of wine or shots of harder stuff.
Pregnant women are being warned against any alcohol use, as the guidelines said, “When pregnant or trying to get pregnant, there is no known safe amount of alcohol use.” Similarly, for those breastfeeding, “not drinking alcohol is safest”.
“Alcohol is a psychoactive substance used by about three-quarters of people living in Canada,” the document noted, and added it contributed to 18,000 deaths in the country in 2017. Among those were deaths from cancer, as the document said “the fact that alcohol is a carcinogen that can cause at least seven types of cancer is often unknown or overlooked. The most recent available data show that the use of alcohol causes nearly 7,000 cases of cancer deaths each year in Canada”.
“Harms related to alcohol use represent a significant public health issue in Canada,” the statement from the Chief Medical Officers of Health stressed.