Canada Revisits Alcohol Guidelines

As families headed to cottages and campgrounds or settled down at home for a staycation this last summer long weekend, many adults also made a quick trip to the store to stock up on beer, wine, or liquor to sip around the bonfire or share with friends while grilling.  But new research that has found consuming more than six drinks per week greatly increases health risks has Canada considering a revision to its alcohol guidelines. 

According to a recent New York Time Canada Letter article, a new set of alcohol guidelines was proposed earlier this week by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.  After two years of study, researchers found that no amount of alcohol is good for your health, and men and women should not exceed two drinks per week.  Each drink after two increases the health risk and every drink over six causes a sharp rise in risk.  The new proposal also strongly suggests that no one have more than two drinks per day. 

In recent years, and certainly during the pandemic lockdowns, alcohol use has risen sharply.  Craft cocktails bars, wine tasting events, and the advent of micro-breweries have made alcohol the star of many social events.   Early studies suggested that moderate amounts of alcohol, especially red wine, held health benefits.  Newer research shows that even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.  Studies also link certain cancers including breast and colon cancers with alcohol consumption.  Drinking can also lead to falls and injury and may interact with some medications.  Older adults can have a diminished ability to process alcohol and may be more sensitive to its effects than they once were. 

Although drinking alcohol has become an integral component of social gatherings, and a ritual for many people after a long day, there are many new alcohol alternatives that can replace a daily drink or two.  Low or no alcohol beers have come a long way in flavor and enjoyment, and more restaurants offer “mocktails” for non-drinkers to enjoy.   Adults trying to lower their alcohol consumption can also choose drinks with a lower alcohol percentage, drink slowly, and have water between drinks.