Nonetheless, safe drinking levels have been reduced from 21 units a week to 14 units, which is around six small glasses of wine or pints of beer a week. For the first time, safe drinking levels have been set the same for both sexes; previous guidelines had suggested men could drink more than women each week without any health consequences.
Setting the more relaxed tone, the Portman Group, the industry body that promotes responsible drinking, has said that moderate drinking is no more risky than many everyday activities, such as driving.
It’s a more relaxed approach than that suggested by the UK’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies who earlier in the year had warned that drinking even one glass of wine could trigger cancer, and she advised that everyone should abstain completely. Alcohol had been linked to a range of cancers and chronic diseases, she warned.
The one concession to Prof Davies is the government’s warning that women over the age of 55 should drink less.