Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Weekly alcohol-free days urged

MPs are recommending drinkers have two alcohol-free days each week

Drinkers should give themselves two alcohol-free days a week, a committee of MPs has said.

The Commons' Science and Technology Committee said it believes abstaining from alcohol at least twice a week would help people's health.

Revealing the findings of their inquiry, the MPs also demanded a review of sensible drinking guidelines amid fears they are unclear, and called on ministers to "exercise proper scrutiny and oversight" over how health messages collide with the industry's "business objectives".

Committee chairman Andrew Miller said: "While we urge the UK health departments to re-evaluate the guidelines more thoroughly, the evidence we received suggests the guidelines should not be increased and that people should be advised to take at least two drink-free days a week."

"Sensible" drinking limits were defined 25 years ago as 21 units of alcohol a week for men and 14 for women.

But new evidence in the 1990s claiming drinking could help prevent heart disease prompted ministers to advise daily limits of up to four units a day for men and three for women.

The Royal College of Physicians' special adviser on alcohol, Sir Ian Gilmore, echoed calls for a review of guidelines and demanded a minimum price for alcohol.

He said: "The RCP believes that in addition to quantity, safe alcohol limits must also take into account frequency. There is an increased risk of liver disease for those who drink daily or near-daily compared with those who drink periodically or intermittently."

A Department for Health spokesman said: "It's crucial that people have good advice about alcohol so they can take responsibility for their own health.

"The current guidelines were developed following a thorough review of the evidence and consultation with experts. We will consider these recommendations and look at whether it is necessary to review our guidance."

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