WENCY LEUNG – HEALTH REPORTER, The Globe and Mail
People who adhere to Canada’s guidelines for low-risk drinking are still vulnerable to alcohol-related cancers and other harms, according to a new modelling study that suggests Canadians should be advised to have no more than one drink a day.
The study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found more than 50 per cent of cancer deaths resulting from alcohol use in British Columbia in 2014 were among people who drank within the national guidelines or were former drinkers. That is, they consumed within the recommended limit of 10 drinks a week for women and 15 drinks a week for men.
British Columbians drinking within these guidelines also account for nearly 40 per cent of the alcohol-attributed deaths due to injuries that year.
“Basically, if you’re drinking any amount of alcohol, you’re increasing your risk of cancer – and that’s very clear – and for many other conditions as well,” said lead researcher Adam Sherk, a postdoctoral fellow at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria.
He and his team suggest that Canada follow the lead of the Netherlands, which recommends not drinking alcohol at all or, if people do, not more than one drink a day.
Canada’s low-risk drinking guidelines released in 2012 by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), a non-governmental organization that reports to Parliament, are higher than those of many other wealthy countries, including France, Britain, Germany and the United States. The advised weekly limits of 10 and 15 drinks for women and men respectively equate to about 135 grams of ethanol for women and around 202 g for men, the researchers noted. By comparison, France recommends no more than 100 g of ethanol each week for both women and men, while the U.S. recommends no more than 98 g a week for women and 196 g a week for men.
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