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Change to guidelines on weekly alcohol consumption

Monday, 6 February 2017

Know Your LimitsChanges to advice in the UK – as well as in other European countries – on the safe level of alcohol adults can consume in a week is being adopted in the Isle of Man following a local review.

In late 2012 the UK’s chief medical officers commissioned two groups to review the UK’s alcohol guidelines, which were then based on a 1995 report Sensible Drinking.  The review’s findings, from an examination of 44 sources of new, good quality evidence published since 1995, showed that the risk of a range of cancers, especially breast cancer, increases directly in line with consumption of any amount of alcohol.

A key change in the advice sees the number of units that men can safely consume in a week reduced from 21 to 14, bringing it in line with the recommended level for women, which remains unchanged. 

Fourteen units of alcohol is the equivalent of six pints of beer (4% strength), 6 glasses of wine (13% strength, 175 ml), or 14 single shots of spirits (40% strength).

The Isle of Man’s Know Your Limits alcohol awareness campaign, run by the Department’s Public Health Directorate, has been updated to include this and other changes in advice, notably:

  • A recommendation not to ‘save up’ 14 units for one or two days – but instead to spread them over three or more days and have at least two alcohol free days each week
  • There is no ‘safe’ level of alcohol to drink during pregnancy
  • Guidance on managing single episodes of drinking.

 Minister for Health and Social Care, Kate Beecroft MHK, said:

'Lifestyle choices – such as the amount of alcohol people drink – play a critical role to health and wellbeing.  Ensuring the public can make informed choices is an important part of the Department’s five year strategy which has, as one of its five goals, encouraging people to take greater responsibility for their own health.

'By adopting the advice from the UK and updating our Know Your Limits campaign, the Department aims to give people the tools and knowledge to manage their alcohol intake appropriately and minimise any impact to their health.'

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