New Canadian guidelines recommend no more than two alcoholic drinks per week

Was your New Year’s Resolution to drink less? I hope so because a new study out of Canada is urging folks to limit their booze to two drinks per week. So Damp January just became Slightly Moistened January, I guess. The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) released their findings on Tuesday suggesting women limit themselves to two drinks and men to six drinks per week. This is big departure from their 2011 guidelines that said no more than two drinks per day.

Canadians are being urged to limit their alcohol consumption to two drinks per week, according to a new national guidance.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) updated its guidance on alcohol and health, recommending that women should limit consumption to two standard drinks per week and men should limit consumption to six standard drinks per week.

The country defines a standard drink as a bottle of beer or cider (12 oz., 5% alcohol), glass of wine (5 oz., 12% alcohol), or a shot glass of spirits (1.5 oz., 40% alcohol).

“The main message from this new guidance is that any amount of alcohol is not good for your health,” said Erin Hobin, senior scientist with Public Health Ontario and a member of the expert panel that developed the guidelines, per BBC. “And if you drink, less is better.”

The previous guidance, which was released in 2011, recommended no more than two drinks per day. The CCSA states now that consuming more than two alcoholic drinks per week increases the risk for a stroke or cancer. Hobin explained that the risk for head and neck cancers increases by 15% at three standard drinks per week.

[From People]

I get there are biological factors involved but of course men get 3x more to drink than we do. What if men are the reason we need to drink? Shouldn’t that mean we get some of their allotment? I’m kidding. This is obviously a big change from what we’d been told. I’ll be honest, I probably average more than two drinks per week. I’ve recently cut down my wine even more on the days that I have it, but if I average things out, I’m sure I fail these standards. I’m going to be down to a thimbleful of wine with dinner before long.

This news comes on the heels of the New York Times article stating that no amount of alcohol is good for anyone, which the CSAA study also said. US Dietary Guidelines are slightly higher than CCSA’s latest study, but they, too, reiterate that alcohol does not benefit a person’s health in any way. This dispels the notion that that red wine is good for the heart or that beer aids in osteoporosis and other such arguments. The current thinking is that the ills of alcohol outweigh any minor benefit it has. I’m of two minds with this information. I find myself cutting back more each year, so I feel like I’ll meet this new standard eventually. At the same time, telling myself I can only have two glasses of wine per week is going to take a psychological shift. I mean, if I average my consumption out, I may be a lot closer than I think. But just telling myself that’s it is freaking me out.

I know one thing, if I’m only getting two glasses per week, so it my husband. Scr*w the gender divide.

Photo credit Elevate and Adrienn from Pexels

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51 Responses to “New Canadian guidelines recommend no more than two alcoholic drinks per week”

  1. Pita says:

    What!? What am i supposed to do during my Christmas wine advent calendar time? I guess is going to have to be dry jan to nov 🤣

  2. Lizzie says:

    A glass of wine is good for my insomnia. That’s all I’ll say. I am doing dry January and I am back to my prior life of not being able to sleep at night, tired all day. I don’t miss wine in the evening, but I do miss falling asleep.

  3. SIde Eye says:

    Lol @”slightly moistened January”. I recently cut back because I was gaining too much weight. I managed to cut back by cutting coffee out of my life completely – which was extremely hard but I was able to do it. My pattern was I’d drink 2-3 cups of coffee (with a ton of sugar in it) every morning. Coffee makes me extremely jittery and at night, I can’t go to sleep. So now I need a glass of wine to “come down.”

    Now that I cut the coffee out, starting my day with a cup of ginger tea, I don’t need so much wine. I save it for special nights – maybe once a week, when I am rewatching Only Murders or White Lotus.

    I’ve lost 15 pounds making this change and I only started on Dec. 27th. I am sleeping like a baby too. I am not big on exercise but did add more fruits and vegetables to my diet and I’m drinking tea or water mostly.

  4. HandforthParish says:

    I wish they’d adjusted their wine/unit ratio.
    They keep quoting glasses of wine as 12%, which is ridiculous. Wines are getting increasingly stronger and champagne/fizzy, as far as I can tell are the lightest at 12,5.

    Most wines now tend to be around 14, which changes the unit situation a lot.

    • Lex says:

      … where do you live? All wines I see/buy are between 11.5-13%

      These are French, Australian, Italian, NZ wines

      • HandforthParish says:

        UK.

        The lightest wines (red) tend to be Burgundy French. New World wines are routinely 14%.
        Whites are lighter but usually hit 12.

  5. HoofRat says:

    I love in a rural Canadian resort community, and based on what I see at the local bottle depot, there are a whole lot of people around here who would going to struggle to reduce their drinking to two per hour, let alone per week. Hats off to everyone who is working toward healthier consumption levels!

  6. DouchesOfCambridge says:

    I can’t believe how the alcohol subject has changed in the past …20 years? Anything alcohol is just shoved to your face everywhere, movies, tv, social media… Everything you see if just “I need a drink” kinda vibe for every kind of situation and you always see someone holding a stemmed glass in every shot. I’m not a drinker, but I hope the conversation will shift about alcohol, because this another case of tobacco to me. Not good for people. (I drink a total of not even 1 glass per year: i cant take it physically but if I could, all that publicity would make me wanna drink!)

  7. Case says:

    This is pretty much on par with how often I drink. I’m not much of a drinker at home (I live alone and feel like that would be a rather unhealthy habit) — I mostly just drink (one or two drinks max) when I’m out with friends or visiting my parents for dinner.

  8. salmonpuff says:

    Way to pile on the guilt, Canada!

    I try to do this already, not consciously, but just because I tend to only drink on weekends and then lightly. But the recent rhetoric around drinking is reminding me of the demonization of eggs and coffee and fat and other individual food items over the years. The body is a complex system, and it’s unlikely that any one food item is responsible for illness or lack of longevity, etc. (Also this particular recommendation is coming from a group specializing in substance abuse, so…)

    That said, alcohol can be a slippery slope. I definitely think we’re all up for a reminder to not go overboard over the last couple of years — I had a very drinky 2020-21 and it took some effort to cut back again.

    But people have been drinking alcohol forever, and it’s unlikely we will stop.

    • Lindsay says:

      “It’s unlikely that any one food item is responsible for illness or lack of longevity” but we know it is possible – think of cyanide. There is a difference between a single food in your diet not being likely tank or fix everything and how poison works. Alcohol isn’t food, it only seems murky because the consumption is so linked.

      • C says:

        Historically alcohol has been treated as food in many ways. In the Tudor era, the B vitamins in beer provided half of a laborer’s nourishment. Whiskies and wine were used medicinally and as food in the 19th century in various ways.

        The attitudes toward alcohol where the consumption in public is massively normalized, where people are pressured to drink, and where glamorizing of binging are bad. But they are to blame more than alcohol itself in my view.

      • salmonpuff says:

        Um, cyanide is found in many healthy foods that we eat. Sure, too much will kill us, and so will too much alcohol. But nobody’s saying don’t ever eat spinach because cyanide…

        I’m not rah-rah pro alcohol, but I’m also aware of the limitations of nutrition science and the tendency of humans to want simple and absolute answers about complex topics.

      • C says:

        Good point salmonpuff – in fact, even healthy foods like brown rice are recommended to be limited because of arsenic content. Nutrition is definitely complex.

    • teek says:

      Honestly, this is more of government regulating what we can and can’t do with our bodies. Talk to your Dr. It used to be 2 glasses of wine was fine. But again, here we are being sheeple again. My stepdad drank a handle of dark myers rum a day He lived to 79. Not saying people should do that, by any means, but for goodness sakes, 2 glasses of wine a week. Nah!
      Another way that the government can cut down on health care costs for the people and put more money in their pockets.

  9. Anon says:

    Uh, the men/women difference is so outdated. I’m a trans guy so what does that mean for me? I’m 5’4” and 130lbs, do I still get to drink more? So ridiculous.
    P.S I’ve been sober for 14yrs

    • ee says:

      I think it’s not just about body size – I have read some articles that link alcohol consumption specifically to breast cancer. So, depending on what your transition has involved, you probably have an idea of whether your breast cancer risk is similar to a cis woman or not, & then you could put that information together with body size when trying to estimate your individual risk.

      • Anon says:

        I did have top surgery but because I chose a nipple graft, my chances of breast cancer remain the same. I think what’s weird and hard for all trans folks is we have to play guesswork all the time when health is measured this way. When we ask for clarification doctors almost never know the answers.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re right they should totally explain this better. At one point they were saying that people born as women don’t have the physical ability (in their livers maybe?) to metabolize alcohol the way people born as men do, and it gets worse as women get older, which I’ve seen myself with people I know and heard from friends.

      I’d say in your situation maybe check with your doctor, which is what they really should be saying we all do! But it sounds like you don’t drink, so probably a moot point. Congrats on your sobriety of 14 years!

    • Lindsay says:

      What would you have them do instead? The social concept of gender is changing but biologically it isn’t.

      The articles should just be a starting point to speak with your doctor no the final say and only source.

      • C says:

        1.7 percent of the world’s population is born with ambiguous genitalia. Transition therapy also influences it. And medical expertise will never be comprehensive without discarding the concept of the binary as the only one that exists.

    • Lex says:

      This refers to sex, not gender. Your sex doesn’t change

  10. Dougie says:

    Way overdue. I look at Ryan Reynolds, George Clooney, the Rock, etc and love how they are beloved even though they made their fortunes peddling a long known carcinogenic agent barely a step above cigarettes. They’ve made ridiculous amounts of money off the suffering of others, but are largely celebrated for having ‘great business acumen’, for their philanthropy, and their acting. It’s all just so shady and greedy.

    • Page says:

      I completely agree. I’ve been sober a little over 2 years but it took me 10 years of various levels of trying to “cut back” or moderate or quit before it finally stuck during the pandemic because I couldn’t go to a bar. The “mommy juice” and “it’s good for you” and “it’s being part a community” pressure from our friends and family was unbelievable. We basically had to cut off our entire friend group. Once you stop drinking you realize how it has crept into every part of our society.

  11. Concern Fae says:

    Haven’t gone into this yet, but my sense is that there are enough people for whom any alcohol is a very bad thing that it throws off the equation when you look at population studies. This is what happened to salt. Remember when salt was the worst and all the studies showed that no one should eat any salt. What they eventually discovered was that a few people are highly salt sensitive, but the vast majority can eat all the salt they want. Food tastes “too salty” when it reaches unhealthy levels. They can test for salt sensitivity now. I wonder if they will soon be able to do the same for alcohol. I have alcoholics in my family tree, so I’ve never become a drinker.

    It does strike me that the people who see the horrible effects of heavy drinking can’t stop that – 10% of drinkers drink more than 73 drinks a week. So they start doing studies that terrorize the people who don’t drink a lot and care about their health. You can get a lot of attention and funding for telling people that stuff they thought was healthy actually isn’t. I worked for a research lab that chased after wellness money. It was fascinating to see how the funders were super fit people trying to reach 110% and basically not that interested in understanding health problems that required more to solve than increased willpower.

    • C says:

      I like this comment a lot.

    • Rnot says:

      The genetics of alcohol metabolism are fascinating for their differences between populations, families and individuals. My family can metabolize alcohol very well. We can build up a tolerance within a very short period. I suspect that’s part of the reason that we have a few alcoholics on the tree. You can see similar patterns in people’s tolerance for excess sugar and predisposition for type 2 diabetes.

    • salmonpuff says:

      This is super interesting — I didn’t know that about salt, but a few years ago, my husband was told by a cardiologist that he should eat MORE salt, which we thought was wild since we’d always tried to limit salt for health’s sake. Now we salt to our heart’s content!

      I take all nutrition studies with a grain of salt — ha! Thanks for sharing.

    • ChillinginDC says:

      What you said. Good grief, everything in moderation, and also go to your doctor, do a physical, get a baseline, and go from there.

    • Dillesca says:

      Thank you for this reasonable and thoughtful comment! The pitfalls of these sorts of studies– heterogeneous treatment effects, people!

  12. Andrea says:

    I have never been much of a drinker, but the last few times I drank just 2 glasses of wine, I had a terrible night sleeping and then decided no more. I am highly sensitive to caffeine already and cut that out 12+ years ago completely(terrible insomnia over just 1 coffee). I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage in 2 years. I find now that I am in my 40s, a lot of people are using drinking as a crutch to get through their lives. I believe in changing the aspects of your life that make you unhapoy instead (leave that partner, move cities, find a different job etc). I know this can be difficult with children, but it is worth it.

    The mommy wine culture needs to be discussed more. I once had a friend down 3 straight double vodkas on a Sunday afternoon with her toddlers running around. She explained because she worked in finance, everyone drank heavily. It was the norm.

    I also wanna say we shouldn’t shame people or peer pressure anyone to drink. My friends in my 20s never pressured me into drinking. But in my 30s and 40s, I am viewed as odd to not be desperate for a drink (different friends, I live in Canada now, those friends were in the US who didnt care whether I drank or not). I have a former friend who told me she grew up in rural Ontario and never met anyone who didnt drink or refused a drink when offered. That blew my mind. We are no longer friends because she has become ultra conservative and is anti vaccine, irionically..still drinking though.

    • Becks1 says:

      The mommy wine culture does need to be discussed more but I also think its worth noting that its not necessarily anything new at least on some level. I think it just seems new because there are so many annoyingly cutesy sayings about it now and women are more open about it. My mom told me once in the 80s after the kids went to school all the neighborhood women got together and drank peach schnapps (bleh lol.) And that was basically every day. My mom does not drink (she has a mimosa once every two years, usually as some type of statement, lol, her last one was the day Joe Biden was declared the winner of the election) so she was kind of on the fringes of that, but she said it was super common. I was really surprised when she told me this.

      And my aunt once said to me something like, why do you think your grandparents (her parents) have that huge alcohol cabinet? They were having mixed drinks pretty much constantly in the 50s and 60s. They didn’t do it by the time I remember them, bc they were older and it hit different and I think also when they stopped smoking they stopped, but my aunt told me it was definitely a thing. Maybe they weren’t getting drunk, just kind of drinking like the queen used to do?

      So I don’t know. As someone who is deep into it with two young kids who are in sports and all that, I do see the mommy wine culture (no Karen, that’s not coffee in your Yeti at soccer at 3pm) but I think its kind of always been there, under the surface. but I do think its gotten worse AND its gotten more open right now.

      I will say that a new bar opened near me and we have a local distillery in my little downtown area, and we had a new Indian restaurant open about 6 months ago. I mention these three places because they all have a really good mocktail menu – the restaurant has 4 or 6 mocktails, the new bar has 3-4 and the distillery has started offering 3-5 mocktails. I like this because if you are an adult and you want to hang out with friends and you don’t want to be at someone’s house, a bar or restaurant is an easy choice and not everyone just wants to drink water all night. I also like it because I can have a glass of wine and then switch to a mocktail. (I wish more places had non-alcoholic wine, but maybe that’s coming.)

      If I know someone is coming over my house who does not drink, I make sure to have some thing they can drink that I know they’ll like instead. so from that perspective I like when people are open about not drinking so I can make sure I have something for them besides water.

      ETA yikes sorry that got really long LOL.

  13. Mineral Water says:

    I completely cut out alcohol decades ago, and when I politely decline alcohol in social settings, you’d think I committed crimes and am a dangerous person who must now be avoided.

    In college, I took a class about the media’s (film, television, advertising, etc.) propagation of alcohol culture (and rape and misogyny culture, but those are whole other topics). It is extremely disturbing how alcohol marketing saturates every aspect of daily life. Try finding a movie where someone doesn’t resolve their feelings with a drink.

    Anyway, I don’t drink alcohol at all. I don’t miss it even a little bit. Not once did I ever have a drink that improved my life in any way whatsoever.

    My brother has been an alcoholic since middle school, and I can think of not one single way that alcohol has done anything but destroy his life.

    I feel clear and healthy every day, and I look and feel at least 20 years younger than most of my peers who drink regularly.

  14. Lulabelle says:

    I don’t drink so I’m always surprised by people talking about how much they drink. I totally get a glass here and there but so many people my age (36) and older drink daily and binge drink on the weekends still and I’m just like how?!! Do you not get hangovers? How is it worth it?

    I wonder if this is also to lesson the cost and burden on the public healthcare system? The less people drink, probably less money spent for healthcare.

    • Lara (the other) says:

      I am wondering as well. I drink ocasionally on the weekend with friends, one glas of wine is ok, if I don’t have to get up early or have a streanous training planned. Two glases and I can forget the next day.
      I cant imagine to drink and have to work the next day.

  15. Tigerlily says:

    I’m 63 & I always enjoyed drinking. In my teens it was definitely excessive. Over the years I used it as a crutch to deal with social anxiety. About 15 years ago I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. The meds given to me do not play nice with alcohol. I was really anxious that I wouldn’t be able to have my usual couple glasses of wine or couple G & T each night. My doc said a couple drinks a week would be ok. However once I started on the medication (methotrexate) I found that I didn’t want any alcohol. Since then I’m basically teetotal. If we go to Hawaii for a winter getaway I’ll maybe have a couple glasses of wine per week but I don’t really miss it.

  16. Rnot says:

    We all need to start to come to terms with the fact that alcohol is carcinogenic, especially for women. It’s culturally embedded even more than cigarettes were, but we need to find different intoxicants because there’s no negotiating that alcohol is harmful in all doses. I’m struggling to give up wine because it’s so entwined with celebratory meals. So far, alcohol-free wines and whiskies are terrifically underwhelming but cannabis infused non-alcoholic sparkling beverages are a decent tasting substitute. Lack of hangovers (aka mild poisoning) is a big selling point for a social lubricant. Then again, people have used weed for thousands of years just like we’ve used alcohol so there may still be some new harm to be discovered there too.

    • ChillinginDC says:

      Please stop saying this. There’s a scientific consensus that the more a person drinks can be then related to a person developing an alcohol related cancer later on.

      And I don’t even listen to most of this stuff, because since the world as a whole has terrible data points on Black women as a whole, most of the time are risks are higher because of crappy medical care and or we don’t have the funds to treat things that can be “fixed” if we could afford to pay for more doctor visits or medication.

      • C says:

        Yep. The medical treatment, diagnosis one receives massively influences the real outcomes of these types of hypotheses more so than the alcohol itself, to me.

    • Margot says:

      This! I am trying to cut down on drinking wine and the odd cocktail, and I find unsweetened cannabis drinks are tasty and a nice way to get a light buzz and then there’s not a hangover the next day. I wish this was an option in my 20s. My poor liver! Why did I do that to myself? I think it’s really heartening that younger generations are not drinking as much. I hope things keep trending that way.

      • teek says:

        I find the new culture of regularized cannabis consumption being praised instead of a glass of wine or 2 at night. We don’t know the end result of cannabis usage at this time. And for many people, like me, I can’t smoke it. I get paranoid and have hallucinations, but now the government is approving it all over the states and opening medical marijuana operations everywhere. Pushing it, instead of other treatments. MJ users have a higher rate of lung cancer. I quit smoking cigarettes a long time ago. i also have friends that us marijuana for stress issues and they use their allotment before the end of the month and have severe rebound anxiety because of it

  17. Kathryn says:

    Yikes. Before covid, I was only having alcohol on weekends. But during the pandemic I started having a drink every evening and haven’t given that up yet. I did switch from wine (hard to have just one glass) to hard seltzer – less potent and fewer calories. Maybe I’ll try to full spectrum gummies instead!

  18. Dillesca says:

    Uggh. Whatever. The ‘waters’ of evidence re benefits of alcohol are muddied– any benefits that might be found from moderate, responsible consumption are probably correlated with other behaviors. But obviously alcohol abuse is bad for your health, so the answer is– let’s cut the alcohol guidelines! Similarly, there is no research about a reasonable amount of alcohol in pregnancy, because that research isn’t possible given ethics constraints. It seems to me like public health officials in Canada have been seeing the same ads for ‘mindful drinking’ apps cropping up everywhere, as opposed responding to new data or an intensification of a problem.

  19. Jaded says:

    All I know is my parents had a couple of drinks almost every night. My mother was a huge proponent of healthy, fresh food way before everyone else jumped on the healthy eating bandwagon, as well as regular exercise. My dad lived to 90 and my mom to 92. I have a glass of red wine with dinner most nights and don’t intend to give it up — I’ve followed my mom’s healthy eating habits (Mediterranean diet) and work out 4-5 times a week, so I’m not going to change my wine habit.

    • teek says:

      Thank you for your comment! I agree with you completely! Everything in moderation. Eat healthy, exercise and have a couple glasses of wine. Don’t smoke. Have a happy and healthy life.

  20. HeyKay says:

    Life lessons from a 61 y/o, ready?
    #1. Enjoy a drink as you care to, if you are healthy. Start daily meds for any health needs and the first thing is generally No Alcohol with this med. (A/D in my case) as you age, other health issues pop up, you are benched for life.
    #2. Live long enough, need a Nursing home, you ain’t ever getting so much as a dixie cup of liquor again. Unless someone takes you out for drinks.
    Therefore, do not waste your drinks on cheap crummy liquor. Buy something you like.
    #3. Somebody, somewhere is probably printing a study that directly reverses whatever study you are reading right now.

  21. Bread and Circuses says:

    Well, alcohol is a carcinogen. Obviously, it’s not a very powerful one (more like bacon than smoking, I would guess), but how much cancer-causing liquid should you drink? You know the answer to that.

    Of course, I don’t drink, so I can be flippant, but I’m currently wrestling with the terrible news that a lot of brands of dark chocolate contain dangerous amounts of lead and cadmium. So that’s my pain point; I absolutely would eat dark chocolate every day and tell myself it’s for the anti-oxidants, but now…

    • Brianne says:

      If were talking carcinogens…bacon is rated the same as cigarettes. Just “food” for thought. More than one kind of cancer stick.

  22. MJM says:

    Just wanted to say I enjoyed your post Hectate. Best to those cutting alcohol consumption. I’m cutting food consumption and it’s hard.

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