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New Australian alcohol guidelines

The National Health and Medical Research Council has released new national guidelines for reducing the health risks from drinking alcohol.

The guidelines are the result of four years of extensive review of the evidence on the harms and benefits of drinking alcohol. They replace the previous version, published in 2009. Infographic showing the three alcohol guidelines in words and images

2020 alcohol guidelines  

  1. Adults. To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day. The less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol.
  2. Children and people under 18 years of age. To reduce the risk of injury and other harms to health, children and people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol.
  3. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Advice for pregnancy: To prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol. Advice for breastfeeding: For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby.

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A recent study confirms the link between alcohol use and seven types of cancers. The study found that increased alcohol use was associated with high risk of seven types of cancers: mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, bowel and breast cancer.

Key findings

  • 7 drinks a week raises the risk of alcohol-linked cancers by an average of 10%
  • 7-14 drinks a week raises the risk of alcohol-linked liver cancer by 48%, those drinking more than 14 drinks a week had a 202% increased risk of liver cancer
  • More than 14 drinks a week raises the "absolute cumulative risk" of seven types of cancers by 4.4% in men and 5.4% in women
  • Concentrated alcohol use over 1 to 3 days per week, increased the risk of breast cancer even further.

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