The UK Chief Medical Officers recently published new alcohol guidelines. The new advice is based on up-to-date evidence on the health effects of drinking. It gives guidance on regular drinking, single drinking sessions and drinking in pregnancy. Here’s a summary of the advice.

Guidance on regular drinking

For both men and women, it’s safest not to regularly drink more than 14 units per week to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level.

If you do drink 14 units per week, it’s best to spread this evenly over three days or more. Having one or two heavy drinking sessions increases your risk of long-term illnesses, as well as accidents and injuries.

The risk of developing a range of illnesses – including cancer – increases with any amount you drink on a regular basis.

GUIDANCE ON SINGLE DRINKING SESSIONS

Both men and women who want to keep their short-term health risks from a single drinking session to a low level are advised to:

  • Limit the total amount of alcohol you drink on any occasion
  • Drink slowly, with food and alternate with water

GUIDANCE ON DRINKING IN PREGNANCY

If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the safest approach is not to drink any alcohol at all.

Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby, with the more you drink the greater the risk.

The risk of harm to the baby is likely to be low if a woman has drunk only small amounts of alcohol before she knew she was pregnant or during pregnancy. If you are worried about how much you have been drinking when pregnant, talk to your doctor or midwife.