As Canada releases drastic alcohol guidance, what's the UK advice?

A group of people cheers with alcohol  in their hands.
New guidance from the Canadian government says that there should be a zero consumption approach to alcohol. (Getty Images)

Brits are known for their love of alcohol - recent figures found that over half (58%) of UK adults drink booze at least once a week. So the new guidance for Canadian citizens on alcohol may make some Brits baulk.

According to new government-backed advice, new national recommendations for those in Canada say that zero alcohol consumption is the healthiest option.

The guidance adds that, if you must drink, then you should only have two alcoholic drinks per week.

Read more: 15 sober celebrities who don't drink alcohol

The new report has been funded by Health Canada, and has also called for mandatory warning labels to be placed on all alcoholic beverages.

“The main message from this new guidance is that any amount of alcohol is not good for your health,” senior scientist with Public Health Ontario, Erin Hobin said. “And if you drink, less is better.”

This is a stark difference from the previous recommendation published in 2011, that allowed a maximum of 10 alcoholic drinks per week for women and 15 for men.

So what is the guidance on alcoholic beverage consumption in the UK?

How much alcohol can people in the UK drink per week?

The NHS says that men and women in the UK are not advised to drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week on a regular basis.

If adds that these 14 units should be spread across at least three days of the week, and that you should have several drink-free days per week if you’re trying to cut down.

Red wine being poured into a glass.
A 750ml bottle of wine is equivalent to 10 units of alcohol. (Getty Images) (Photo by Rafa Elias via Getty Images)

How much is one unit of alcohol?

According to the NHS, 14 units is equivalent to six pints of beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine - and a 750ml bottle of wine contains 10 units.

Read more: How to beat a hangover – and common myths to ignore

One single small shot of spirits is also equivalent to one unit, and a standard glass of red, white, or rose wine is 2.1 units - a large glass is three units.

A pint of higher strength beer is three units, while a pint of lower strength beer is two units. A 330ml bottle of beer is 1.7 units.

What effect does alcohol have on the body?

Regularly drinking more than the recommended maximum units of alcohol per week can be damaging to your health.

The NHS says that regularly exceeding 14 units of alcohol per week can lead to illnesses such as mouth, throat or breast cancer, stroke, heart disease, liver disease, brain damage, and damage to the nervous system. It can also have a detrimental effect on your mental health.

Read more: How drinking alcohol affects your body and mind

A man holds a pint glass.
Brits are advised to have less than six pints of beer per week. (Getty Images)

What can you do if you want to lower your consumption of alcohol or stop altogether?

The first thing you should do, according to Drink Aware, is make sure that you have several alcohol-free days per week.

“Taking drink-free days helps you stick to the recommended 14 units per week. It gives you the opportunity to pick up a new hobby, increase your exercise or find new ways to socialise,” it adds.

It also says that it’s important to understand the size of an alcoholic unit and stick to these limits. Setting goals can also be helpful if you want to quick or reduce your intake of alcohol, as can planning ahead.

For example, if you know you have a stressful week ahead book a trip to the cinema instead of going to the pub for a pint.

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