Curb your consumption: Canadians urged to limit booze intake to two drinks per week

Jan 17 2023, 3:49 pm

If Dry January is part of your new year’s resolution, there may be more health benefits to it than you think.

Canada’s new guidance is calling on people to limit their booze intake and on the federal government to add health warnings to alcohol labels as experts say people may not know the full risks of even moderate alcohol consumption.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) released its final report on Tuesday, and the findings are grim.

According to Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health, consuming three to six drinks a week already poses a moderate risk to your health.

Drinking more than six a week increases your risk of seven types of cancer, most types of cardiovascular diseases and liver disease, and violent and aggressive behaviour, reads the report.

This scales back on the previous guidelines, which recommended a maximum of 15 drinks for men and 10 drinks for women per week.

The CCSA says that, according to the most recent available data, alcohol causes nearly 7,000 cases of cancer deaths each year in Canada, with most cases being breast or colon cancer, followed by cancers of the rectum, mouth and throat, liver, esophagus, and larynx.

Its new guidelines include a continuum of risks associated with drinking alcohol to help Canadians “make informed decisions about their health.”

The report advises that:

  • One to two standard drinks per week is a low risk
  • Three to six standard drinks per week is a moderate risk
  • Seven or more standard drinks per week is an increasingly high risk
  • No matter where you are on that continuum of alcohol use, for your health, less is better
  • If you’re going to drink, don’t exceed more than two drinks on any day
  • When pregnant or trying to get pregnant, there is no known safe amount of alcohol


“People have a right to know this information. The concept of a continuum of risk puts power in people’s hands to make their own informed decisions,” said Alexander Caudarella, chief executive officer of the CCSA, in a statement.

On top of these recommendations, the CCSA is pushing for mandatory health warning labels on alcohol containers.

“Many studies have shown that people are most likely to follow guidance if they know the reasons why they should,” the report states.

“Evidence has shown that adding health warnings to alcohol labels can increase public awareness of the causal link with cancer and reduce per capita alcohol consumption.”

So, what would this look like?

The CCSA is urging for the inclusion of cancer risks on alcohol labels, and the mandatory labelling of all alcoholic beverages with the number of standard drinks in a container.

“Many Canadians are unaware that alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer, and most don’t realize they are drinking unsafe amounts,” Andrea Seale, chief executive officer of the Canadian Cancer Society, said in a statement. “This guidance is so important because it clarifies that the less alcohol you drink, the lower your cancer risk.”

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