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UK To Announce New Guidelines On Alcohol Consumption

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Craig Boudreau Vice Reporter
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The United Kingdom’s secretary of health is announcing new guidelines for alcohol consumption.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says moderate use is safe, but he will be lowering the number of drinks per week deemed healthy for men. It will be lowered from 21 “units” down to 14, the same number as women, The Daily Mail reported Sunday.

For reference, a unit is equivalent to roughly half a regular shot of liquor. With 14 total units allowed in a week, that means seven half shots, six glasses of wine, or six pints of beer.

The new guidelines are a major reversal from one of the guidelines set forth by Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies in January. She angered some when she said there is, “no safe alcohol limit and even drinking small amounts could cause illnesses including cancer.”

Instead of agreeing the new guidelines are a rebuke of Davies, a source close to Hunt told The Daily Mail, “There’s no change to the guidance itself – actually what we’re doing is endorsing it.”

Despite Davies’ claims of any alcohol use potentially causing illnesses, the Harvard School of Public Health says moderate alcohol consumption actually lowers rates of “heart attack, ischemic (clot-caused) stroke, peripheral vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, and death from all cardiovascular causes.” Cancer.org does acknowledge that one drink a day can result in a “very small increase in risk.”

“We think the new guidelines are based on good science,” a government source told The Sunday Times. “Up to the limits we’re advising, the level of risk is probably something people would accept.”

The new alcohol guidelines come on the heels of what was called a “watered down” childhood obesity strategy, where food companies will no longer be forced to reduce the sugar content in their products.

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