Most people in the UK drink alcohol in moderation. It is often present at social gatherings such as parties, product launches and dinner parties. And for most, drinking in moderation is fine. For years, many people have been under the impression that as long as they stayed within the governments recommended guidelines, they were safe.
However, recent reports suggest that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption that can cut the risk of some illnesses; the Government is now reviewing the guidelines and is expected to lower them. Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer in the UK, is currently reviewing the guidelines, with many experts expecting her to recommend that pregnant women abstain from alcohol entirely while pregnant.
The alcohol guidelines in place in the UK were published in 1995 in the Governments Sensible Drinking report. This report suggested that men drink no more than three to four units of alcohol per day while women drink no more than two to three.
Many experts have expressed concern over the fact that most people just do not understand what units actually are. They believe that the guidelines should inform about the amount of alcohol individuals can have. Three to four units of alcohol equates to a pint of strong lager while two to three units is equal to a 175 ml glass of wine. It can be difficult to judge how much alcohol is within these guidelines, particularly for those that do not drink wine or beer.
Dangers of Alcohol Consumption
Researchers now believe the current guidelines are too high, and the fact that alcohol is a major factor in the development of dementia, premature aging and some forms of cancer is prompting many experts to recommend much lower limits. Critics are also keen to point out that the current guidelines do not do enough to educate people on the importance of having alcohol-free days. Scottish drinkers are encouraged to abstain from drinking alcohol for at least two days every week.
The new alcohol guidelines are expected to be published in 2016 and are predicted to conform to the recommendations of health experts by lowering the limits. The Royal College of Physicians is calling for the weekly limit for men to be reduced to 21 from 28, and 14 from 21 for women.
They also believe that men over the age of sixty-five should limit alcohol consumption to eleven units per week; women over the age of sixty-five should drink no more than seven units of alcohol per week. The reason for this age-related advice is because as the body ages it struggles to process alcohol as effectively as before.
Other recommendations include abstaining from alcohol for at least three days per week while pregnant women should abstain completely.
Nonetheless, according to the Department of Health, the details of the new guidelines are still being worked on by Dame Sally and other health experts.
Educating the Public
Research has shown that most individuals are unaware of the dangers of alcohol consumption. Many just do not comprehend the link between alcohol and cancer, and many regularly drink more than the recommended daily allowance. It is, therefore, vital that the public is educated about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.
As well as the danger to health from various illnesses and diseases, there is also the risk of addiction. Those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol are in danger of developing a tolerance to the substance. When this happens, the affected individual may drink more in order to get the same effects, which can lead to the devastating illness that is addiction.