Healthy living

New daily alcohol limit proposed

New daily alcohol limit proposed Reflects harm caused by binge-drinking

The recommended weekly alcohol drinking limit should also include a daily maximum limit which takes into account the harm caused by binge-drinking, an expert has said.

Professor Nick Heather of Alcohol Research UK told the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee that the weekly drinking limits for men and women should not be raised.

But within the weekly guidelines there should be a new maximum daily limit of alcohol consumption which "should never be exceeded," to reflect the risk of acute injury caused by binge-drinking.

Professor Heather suggested that the daily limit could be set at around eight units of alcohol for a man, and six units for a woman.

Drinking above this limit in a single sitting, also known as binge-drinking, has been shown to put drinkers at greater risk of alcohol-related accidents and violence.

The 'binge-drinking limit' could be incorporated into the current Department of Health guidelines, the professor said.

Currently, the Department of Health advises that "men should not regularly drink more than 3–4 units of alcohol a day and women should not regularly drink more than 2–3 units a day," to reduce the risk of chronic health conditions linked to heavy drinking.

Previously the DOH recommended that men and women should drink no more than 21 units and 14 units of alcohol a week respectively, and abstain from alcohol for at least two days a week.

The professor said these should remain, but also include a new daily limit. If a man was to drank eight units of alcohol in a single sitting - although not advised - he should then restrict himself to 13 units for the rest of the week, with two alcohol free days.

The Commons Science and Technology Select Committee is examining the evidence relating to guidelines on alcohol consumption.

Professor Sir Iain Gilmore, Royal College of Physicians special adviser on alcohol and chairman of Alcohol Health Alliance UK, also said: "As someone who still looks after people with liver disease, and with hospital admissions rising, I think that any recommendation to increase limits would add to the tide of harm that we are seeing in our hospitals every day.

"Given the burden of harm that we've got, it's vital that levels are not increases at this point."

This article was published on Thu 13 October 2011

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