Canada Recommends Maximum of Two Drinks Per Week

    Canada Recommends Maximum of Two Drinks Per Week
    Last updated Jan 18, 2023
    Image credit: cbc


    • The Canadian government announced new national recommendations that say zero alcohol is the only risk-free approach to drinking. The guidance says two drinks each week is deemed low-risk, a steep drop from the previous recommendation.[1]
    • The previous recommendations from 2011 called for limiting consumption to 15 drinks per week for men and ten drinks per week for women. These new recommendations reflect data from studies conducted over the last decade that link even small amounts of alcohol to multiple types of cancer.[2]
    • The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction recently published a report stating that alcohol is a carcinogen associated with seven types of cancer — most notably breast and colon cancer. In addition, alcohol is associated with heart and liver disease, dementia, and lower respiratory infections.[3]
    • Health Canada funded the new report and suggested mandatory warning labels for all alcoholic beverages. Erin Hobin, a senior scientist with Public Health Ontario said: "The main message from this new guidance is that any amount of alcohol is not good for your health."[1]
    • According to the new guidance, having more than two standard drinks — a 12-ounce serving of 5% or a 5-ounce glass of 12% alcohol — increases the risk for negative outcomes, including cancer.[4]
    • The new guidelines are also designed to increase overall awareness of alcohol-related health issues and will make it easier for the public to count their drinks and assess their individual levels of risk.[5]


    Narrative A

    This new guidance is based on scientific evidence. If these policies are implemented, there's a chance to reduce alcohol-related harms and promote health and wellness in Canada. To be successful, warning labels on bottles and cans should go hand in hand with stronger regulations of alcohol advertising and marketing, restrictions on the availability, and a minimum price.

    Narrative B

    The new guidelines put Canada out of step with other Western nations. In Australia, the 2020 national guidance recommends no more than 10 standard drinks per week. France suggests the same. The US recommendation is no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women, while the UK says no more than 14 "units." It remains to be seen whether Canadians — who love their beer almost as much as their hockey — will accept these recommendations.

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