Canada's New Booze Guidelines May Be 'a Bit Shocking'

New recommendation for beer-swilling Canadians: no more than 2 drinks per week
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2023 8:17 AM CST
Updated Jan 22, 2023 3:25 PM CST
Canada's New Booze Guidelines May Be 'a Bit Shocking'
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/cagkansayin)

In Canada, the legal drinking age is between 18 and 19, depending on location. But new guidelines from the nation's Canadian Center on Substance Use and Addiction not only discourage young people from throwing one too many back—the center is now warning everyone away from more than two standard drinks total per week, with a "standard" drink equaling a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot. It's a big drop from previous guidelines set out in 2011, which said Canadians could reduce long-term health risks by consuming no more than 10 drinks a week for women, 15 for men, per Global News.

The outlet runs down all of the health risks that come with imbibing, including ties to various kinds of cancer, liver and heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, and pancreatitis. Then there are the car crashes that come out of a night of drinking, as well as the falls and violence, per research by the CCSA, which notes that alcohol is the top preventable cause of death and disability, as well as social issues. "The evidence is clear that every drink counts. It's also clear that it's never too late to make changes," CCSA CEO Alexander Caudarella says in a release. "Any reduction in alcohol use can be beneficial."

The new guidance—culled from a two-year examination of almost 6,000 peer-reviewed studies and hundreds of public surveys, a project partially funded by Canada's health agency—could be "a bit shocking" for Canadians, Dr. Erin Hobin of Public Health Ontario tells the BBC, which notes that citizens there "love their beer almost as much as they love hockey." Not to mention that many other Western countries, like the US, UK, and France, are still sticking to an OK of 10 to 14 drinks per week. However, the Netherlands has been on board the anti-alcohol train for eight years or so, with its health council recommending total abstention, or, if you really can't stay away, no more than one standard drink per day.

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Moving forward based on the new guidelines, the CCSA is now recommending that alcoholic beverages receive mandatory labels that would indicate how many standard-size drinks are in a container, along with health warnings. Whether Canadians will listen is another matter. "I don't think it would stop anyone anyway," one student tells the CBC. "My grandparents are definitely drinking more than two drinks a week, and they're fine." Besides, "everything causes cancer nowadays," she adds. (More Canada stories.)

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