Canada’s new drinking guideline limits alcohol to two drinks per week


The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) published on Tuesday a new guideline that showes “drinking less is better” and that no amount or kind of alcohol is good for your health. The report is an update of the 2011 Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines and underlines the health risks associated with different amounts of alcohol.

Previously, the guide recommended that adults should limit their alcohol consumption to no more than 10 standard drinks per week, and no more than 2 standard drinks per day. “The last time we did the guidelines, it was in 2011. In 10 years there’s definitely been significant improvements in our understanding of mortality and morbidity associated with alcohol use. We have a much better understanding of the link between alcohol and cancer,” said Catherine Paradis, researcher for the CCSA.

According to the new findings, those who consume between 3 and 6 standard drinks per week have an increased risk of developing several types of cancers, including breast and colon cancer, and is increasing for those who consume above 6 standard drinks per week, along with a high risk for heart disease or stroke. A study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health shows alcohol was linked to 7,000 new cancer cases in Canada in 2020, 24% of which were breast cancer cases, 20% colon cancers, 15% rectal cancers, and 13% oral and liver cancer.

CCSA also urged the implementation of mandatory labelling of all alcoholic beverages with health warnings and the number of standard drinks in a container. “This guidance will help encourage people to rethink if they consume alcohol and when and help them to make an informed decision about that,” said Elizabeth Holmes, senior manager of health policy at the CCS.

Meanwhile, alcoholic beverage consumption per capita in Canada is 9.5 litres compared to global average 6.2 litres. The minimum legal drinking age is 18 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, and 19 years in the rest of the Canadian provinces and territories. As per CCSA alcohol is the leading psychoactive substance used by Canadian youth and young adults ages 15–24 years.