Health chiefs in Wolverhampton have welcomed the publication of new government guidelines on safe levels of alcohol consumption.

The guidelines from the UK's Chief Medical Officers published today (Friday 8 January, 2016) recommend that men and women who drink regularly should consume no more than 14 units a week - the equivalent of 6 pints of beer or 7 standard glasses of wine. Pregnant women should not drink at all.

It also says if people do drink, they should do moderately over 3 or more days and that some days should be alcohol free. In addition, people shouldn't "save up" their units and binge drink them in 1 session.

Previous government guidance set out daily drinking limits of 3 to 4 units for men and 2 to 3 for women, with the updated guidelines seeking to move away from the idea that drinking every day is safe.

England's Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies said: "Drinking any level of alcohol regularly carries a health risk for anyone, but if men and women limit their intake to no more than 14 units a week it keeps the risk of illness like cancer and liver disease low.

"I want pregnant women to be very clear that they should avoid alcohol as a precaution. Although the risk of harm to the baby is low if they have drunk small amounts of alcohol before becoming aware of the pregnancy, there is no safe level of alcohol to drink when you are pregnant."

Councillor Sandra Samuels, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "We welcome today's announcement which will help further raise awareness of the dangers posed by excessive alcohol consumption.

"We have a major problem with alcohol abuse in our city. Alcohol related deaths in Wolverhampton are amongst the highest in the country, with it being one of the most significant causes of premature death, particularly in men aged between 40 and 65. The risk is lower for women than men, however it remains high when compared to the national average.

"At the same time, the number of people being admitted to hospital with alcohol related illnesses - primarily men in their 30s, 40s and 50s - is increasing annually, with treatment estimated to cost the local NHS £1.6 million per year. The wider health and society costs are of course even higher.

"Publishing this guidance is not about the government acting as the nanny state, it is about giving free thinking adults the latest and most up to date scientific information so that they can make informed decisions about their own drinking.

"At the end of the day, alcohol is a drug, and people need to think carefully about the level of risk they are prepared to take."

The guidelines are subject to consultation. For more details, please visit Type=links;Linkid=6763;Title=Health risks from alcohol: new guidelines;Target=_blank;.

  • released: Friday 8 January, 2016