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New health guidelines put 10 drink limit on booze

The National Health and Medical Research Council has released newly revised guidelines on reducing health risks from drinking alcohol.

“We’re not telling Australians how much to drink. We’re providing advice about the health risks from drinking alcohol so that we can all make informed decisions in our daily lives. This advice has been developed over the past three years using the best health evidence available,” said Professor Anne Kelso, CEO of the National Health and Medical Research Council.

“In 2017 there were more than 4,000 alcohol-related deaths in Australia, and across 2016-17 more than 70,000 hospital admissions. Alcohol is linked to more than 60 medical conditions, particularly numerous cancers. So, we all need to consider the risks when we decide how much to drink.

“We recommend that healthy men and women reduce the risk of harm by drinking no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than four standard drinks on any one day.

“However, we are not saying that this is a level that completely eliminates risk. The less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of alcohol-related harm. For some people, not drinking at all is the safest option.

“We recommend that adolescents under the age of 18 do not drink. There is no known ‘safe’ or ‘no-risk’ level of drinking alcohol for children and young people aged under 18 years. Alcohol can harm the way the brain develops, increase the risk of injury and other immediate harms, and increase the risk of developing alcohol-related conditions later in life.”

Professor Kelso added that to reduce the risk of harm 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. We need to keep in mind that while the risk of harm to the fetus is likely to be slight when the mother drinks small amounts of alcohol (less than one standard drink per day) there is not enough evidence to know for sure whether the fetus will be safe from harm, even at this low amount of alcohol. That is why we recommend not drinking alcohol.”

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