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Are Health Officials About to Say That Moderate Drinking Is No Riskier Than Driving a Car?

A UK government source has told The Times that new alcohol guidelines will state that “the risks of drinking moderately are no higher than everyday activities such as driving a car.”
August 24, 2016, 1:00pm

After being criticised for watering down the new childhood obesity strategy last week, the Government is again under fire again for relaxing official health guidelines. And this time, it's booze.

Despite the strict advice on alcohol consumption put forward by England's chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, in January, The Times reported on Monday that new Government advice will state that "the risks of drinking moderately are no higher than everyday activities such as driving a car."

READ MORE: Sorry—Moderate Drinking Doesn't Make You Healthier

Davies' report said that that both men and women should drink no more than 14 units a week (roughly equivalent to six medium glasses of wine or six pints of beer), but also that there was no safe level of drinking, and any amount of alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer.

The Times claims that new official guidelines will include this 14-unit weekly limit, but downplay the associated risks. "Government sources" informed the newspaper that this wasn't an attempt to water down Davies' recommendations, however, but a way of putting "the warnings in context." Ministers want consumers "to make an informed decision about the degree of risk they were prepared to take."


Unsurprisingly, alcohol health campaign groups aren't too happy with The Times' findings. In a press statement to MUNCHIES, Joanna Simons, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, stressed the importance of Davies' original advice.

READ MORE: Scientists Now Say Alcohol Is a Direct Cause of Seven Forms of Cancer

She said: "The guidelines which were published in January 2016 are evidence-based and were put together based on recommendations from a group of independent experts. We need a mass media campaign to make sure these new guidelines are widely known and understood."

MUNCHIES was unable to reach the Department of Health for a response.

The Times' report comes after a string of studies dispelling our hopes that making headway into a bottle of red might help burn off fat or at least be good for the heart. As well as stating that alcohol is a direct cause of seven different types of cancer, scientists rained on our just-one-glass-won't-hurt parade by claiming that the health benefits of having a pint or two were largely unfounded.

Mind you, the new drinking guidelines aren't official yet. Still time to get a round in at the pub, eh?