Australians are being advised to limit alcohol consumption to four standard drinks in a day and 10 across the week.
Issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the guidelines also recommend children and those under the age of 18, as well as people who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not consume alcohol at all.
By following these principles, where a standard drink equates to about 285 ml of full-strength beer, a can of mid-strength beer, 100 ml of wine, or a single shot of spirits, a healthy adult has less than a one in 100 chance of dying from an alcohol-related condition, the NHMRC suggests.
According to the NHMRC the guidelines will underpin policy decisions and public health messaging for many years to come.
The NHMRC’s CEO, Professor Anne Kelso, acknowledged the importance of making the guidelines freely available to Australians during last week’s announcement.
“We’re not telling Australians how much to drink,” Professor Kelso said.
“We’re providing advice about the health risks so that we can all make informed decisions in our daily lives.”
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, added that alcohol already substantially affects the health of Australians.
“Every year there are more than 4,000 alcohol-related deaths in Australia, and more than 70,000 hospital admissions. Alcohol is linked to more than 40 medical conditions, including many cancers,” Professor Kelly said.
Professor Kelly also said the new guidelines, updated from advice issued in 2009, fit in with the federal government’s current approach to tackling the health risks posed by alcohol.
“Reducing the risks posed by alcohol demands a complex and multi-faceted approach – and the release of the guidelines is a very important part of that,” Professor Kelly said.
“They form part of the Australian Government’s National Alcohol Strategy which seeks to prevent and minimise alcohol-related harms to individuals, families and communities.”
The NHMRC, who have also provided guidance on topics such as nutrition and drinking water quality, have more information about the alcohol consumption guidelines, their evidence base, and ways to functionally use them, at their website.