Update of Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

There is now overwhelming evidence that shows the impact of even small amounts of alcohol on our health and well-being. Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health will replace Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines with accurate and current information about the risks and harms associated with the use of alcohol.

Alcohol is legally used by about three-quarters of people living in Canada. For some, alcohol use is intertwined with their lifestyle. It is often used in connection with social events or to mark special occasions. However, alcohol can cause harm to the person who drinks and sometimes to others around them.

Few people recognize that alcohol is a leading preventable cause of death and disability, injuries, accidents and social problems. In 2017, alcohol contributed to 18,000 deaths in Canada. That same year, the costs associated with alcohol use in Canada were $16.6 billion, with $5.4 billion of that sum spent on health care.

The updated guidance should help people to make well-informed and responsible decisions about their alcohol consumption. The new document will help Canadians determine where they fit into the continuum of risk associated with alcohol consumption.

Alcohol is the leading preventable cause of death and disability.

Regular alcohol consumption can increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, mental health challenges and other injuries or disease. Alcohol consumption is also linked to death and injury, violence, and abuse.

Alcohol use also impacts reproductive health.

Alcohol use in pregnancy can lead to lifelong impacts including brain injury, birth defects, behavioural problems, learning disabilities, and other health problems. It is safest not to drink alcohol during pregnancy. Experts also recommend not using alcohol while breastfeeding or during the preconception period.

The risks of alcohol consumption are wide-ranging and your personal risk falls somewhere on a continuum.

Your risk depends on different factors like your gender, age, and socio-economic status.