print header

MOH Column

Current   2017   2016   2015   2014   2013    2012    2011

New National Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

Jun 19, 2012
One of the questions people tend to ask themselves is, “How many drinks containing alcohol are okay for me?” In a day? In a week? Before I shouldn’t drive? The new National Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (LRDG) were developed to help Canadians of legal drinking age make informed choices about drinking alcohol and to encourage a culture of moderation when it comes to alcohol consumption.

One of the questions people tend to ask themselves is, “How many drinks containing alcohol are okay for me?” In a day?  In a week?  Before I shouldn’t drive?  The new National Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (LRDG) were developed to help Canadians of legal drinking age make informed choices about drinking alcohol and to encourage a culture of moderation when it comes to alcohol consumption. 

Many people are aware of the risks and injuries associated with alcohol abuse, but most do not know that even low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption put them at an increased risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, alcohol dependence and mental health problems.   

The Simcoe Muskoka District Heath Unit recently released a report, Alcohol-Related Harm in Simcoe Muskoka, which provides a snapshot of local drinking behaviours and highlights both the health risks and costs to society of drinking beyond the guidelines. The report also calls for a complete review of alcohol from a health and economic perspective and the creation of a provincial alcohol strategy to guide healthy public policy at the provincial and local levels. 

According to the report, eight of every ten adults (19+) in Simcoe Muskoka drink either regularly or occasionally, and 30 per cent drink above the recommended guidelines. Through the campaign How Many Drinks, health unit nurses and other staff are increasing awareness of the LRDG, as well as the impact of alcohol in our communities. The public is regularly engaged through a blog at www.howmanydrinks.org, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. 

Within the guidelines, a “drink” means:

  • 341 ml (12 oz.) glass of 5% alcohol content (i.e. beer);
  • 142 ml (5 oz.) glass of wine with 12% alcohol content; and
  • 43 ml (1.5 oz.) serving of 40% distilled alcohol content (i.e. vodka).  

And the limits to reduce long-term health risks are:

  • 10 drinks a week for women, with no more than 2 drinks a day most days; and
  • 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than 3 drinks a day most days.  

Everyone should plan non-drinking days each week to avoid developing a habit. There are also times when zero is the limit. For example, you shouldn’t drink when operating a vehicle, using machinery or tools, or doing any dangerous physical activity.  It is also important to avoid consuming alcohol when taking medications or other drugs, or if you suffer from mental or physical health problems. Pregnant women should not drink at any time as even small quantities of alcohol can cause harm to unborn children.  

When you choose to drink, make sure to plan ahead, follow local alcohol laws, and consider safer drinking tips. Set a personal drinking limit and stick to it. Drink slowly, consuming no more than 2 alcoholic drinks in 3 hours and having one non-alcoholic drink for every alcoholic one. Finally, it is very important to eat before, and while, you drink. 

For more information about the LRDG or the impact of alcohol in Simcoe Muskoka, visit simcoemuskokahealth.org/Topics/DrugsAlcohol.aspx, or call Your Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday and speak with a public health nurse. 

-30-

Dr. Gardner is Simcoe Muskoka’s medical officer of health.


Did you find what you were looking for?
What did you like about this page?
How can we improve this page?
Page
Feedback

If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

Thanks for your feedback.
Failed to submit comment. Please try submitting again or contact us at the Health Unit.
Comment already submitted ...