The United States government has updated its recommendations on alcohol consumption for the first time since 1995. These updated recommendations advise drinking less per sitting and drinking alcohol fewer times per week.
Since the last update more than 20 years ago, the harms of alcohol consumption have become better understood. According to the latest research, previous alcohol guidelines both underestimated the harms and overestimated the benefits of drinking.
Newer studies have shown that alcohol increases the risk of developing certain cancers. It has also been discovered that alcohol’s benefit on heart health is not as strong as it had once been perceived. The new guidelines suggest that there is no real safe level of alcohol consumption. Basically, alcohol is just another routine risk that many Americans are going to continue to take.
Exceeding the new recommended limit of 14 drinks per week can lead to an increased risk of both bowel and breast cancers. Scientists determined the recommended 14 drinks per week limit because it reportedly represents just under a 1% lifetime risk of death due to alcohol consumption.
Prior studies have shown that small amounts of alcohol consumption can reduce one’s risk of developing certain heart conditions. However, it is now believed that this was a misconception caused by other factors. In particular, those who can afford to drink small amounts of alcohol are likely to have healthier hearts than those who cannot afford to drink at all. If there is any sort of health benefit from alcohol consumption, it only occurs at very small amounts of about one drink per day.
It’s important to remember that these are just mere guidelines and that they should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s not like slightly exceeding the advised 14 drinks per week limit will suddenly lead to serious health conditions or anything. That being said, drinkers should monitor their consumption and understand the risks involved. More drinks mean a greater risk, and it is as simple as that.