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Doctors welcome new alcohol guidelines

Tuesday 12th January 2016
How do doctors feel about the UKs new alcohol guidelines?
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    Doctors and other medical professionals throughout the UK have welcomed new alcohol guidelines designed to lower consumption and improve people's health - the first update to be introduced since 1995.

    The UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) have published new guidance on how many units of alcohol both men and women should drink each week in a bid to discourage binge drinking and bring an end to associated illnesses.

    The nation's alcohol problem

    Statistics show that between 2010 and 2011, around 1.2 million people were admitted to hospital in the UK due to alcohol misuse, which accounted for approximately 15,000 deaths.

    This places a significant strain on the NHS and its resources, with doctors and nurses facing additional pressure as a result, while drink-related admissions come with a price tag in the region of £3.5 billion per year. Overall, the annual cost of alcohol misuse in Britain comes in at around £21 billion.

    Drinking to excess on a regular basis can have a serious effect on people's health, increasing their risk of heart disease, liver failure and certain cancers.

    New guidelines

    The country's new alcohol guidelines state that neither men nor women should consume more than 14 units per week. Previously, men were allowed to drink slightly more than their female counterparts, but this recommendation has been altered due to the fact that any level of alcohol consumption can be potentially harmful.

    In addition, the UK CMOs recommend that this weekly allowance should not be saved up for one binge, but instead consumed over three or more days.

    The new guidance also states that pregnant women should not touch any alcohol, as even a small amount could be harmful to an unborn baby.

    What's more, medical experts have suggested that alcohol should be consumed alongside food and that drinkers should alternate alcoholic beverages with glasses of water to prevent them from getting too drunk and suffering from associated health consequences.

    Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK and an advisor on the new guidelines, commented: "People have a right to know the risks associated with drinking alcohol. Only with accurate and transparent information are people able to make an informed choice about how much alcohol they consume."

    The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has also welcomed the new guidelines. With the overall aim being to educate people about the dangers of drinking even small amounts of alcohol in a bid to safeguard their health, NICE hopes to see less strain placed on NHS doctors in the future.

    Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of the charity Breast Cancer Now, commented: "We welcome the CMO's recommendation, as we've known for some time that regularly drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing breast cancer."

    She added that it's vital that both men and women are clear on the risks imposed by drinking alcohol and welcomed the move to ensure information on alcohol content can be easily seen on all cans and bottles.

    Written by James Puckle

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