Frequently drinking more than 14 units a week risks damaging your health.
14 units is same thing as six pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.
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New evidence about the health risks from regular drinking alcohol have emerged in recent years.
There is now a better knowledge of the link between drinking and some diseases, including a range of cancers.
The previously known position that some level of alcohol was good for the heart has been revised.
It’s now believed that the evidence on a protective effect from moderate drinking is less strong than previously thought.
Reduce-risk drinking advice
To prevent health risks from alcohol to a low level if you drink most weeks:
- men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
- share your drinking over three or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week
- if you want to cut down on your intake, try to have several drink-free days each week
If you’re pregnant or think you could get pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.
No ‘safe’ drinking level
If you are drinking less than 14 units a week, this is considered low-risk drinking.
It is referred to as “low risk” rather than “safe” because there is no safe drinking level.
The kind of illnesses you can have after 10 to 20 years of regularly drinking more than 14 units a week include:
- cancers of the mouth, throat and breast
- heart disease
- liver disease
- brain damage
- damage to the nervous system
The effects of alcohol on your health will be dependent on how much you drink. The less you drink, the lower the health risks.
‘Single session’ drinking
Drinking excessively too quickly on any single occasion can heighten your risk of:
- accidents resulting in injury, causing death in some cases
- misjudging risky situations
- losing self-control, like having unprotected sex
To lower your health risks on any single session:
- limit how much you drink
- drink more slowly
- drink with food
- alternate with water or non-alcoholic drinks