Food & Drinks

New guidelines advise Australians need to drink less alcohol

Pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive? Experts say you shouldn't be drinking at all.

By Fiona Wright
Fancy a glass or two of wine a day? Well, according to new draft alcohol guidelines, Australian men and women are advised to drink no more than 10 standard drinks per week.
Previous guidelines, released in 2009, suggested no more than two standard drinks on any day. Or as we read it: 14 glasses of wine a week.
The new draft health guidelines - the first update in 10 years - come about after three years of research into alcohol-related harm or illness.
Cheers to no more than 10 standard drinks per week. (Getty Images)
Professor Anne Kelso from National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) says it's "advice" is that the less we drink the better.
"We are not saying this is a safe level," she says.
"The less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of alcohol-related harm."
Professor Kate Conigrave, chair of the NHMRC alcohol working committee and Professor of Addiction Medicine at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital says these guidelines will help cut down long-term risk.
"There are around 4,000 alcohol-related deaths per year [and] more than 70,000 hospital admissions per year," she says.
Recent research also shows a link between drinking alcohol and a number of health conditions – including cancer, diabetes, liver disease, brain impairment, mental health problems and weight issues.
According to the Australian Government Department of Health, if you're pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to have a baby, the safest option is to not drink alcohol at all.
Even a small amount of alcohol can harm an unborn baby's development and may have lifelong effects.
Pregnant? The safest option for bub is to drink no alcohol. (Getty Images)
Professor Conigrave echoes this advice for women trying to conceive.
"It's very important that if a woman is planning to get pregnant, or if she feels it's likely she might get pregnant than to avoid alcohol before she conceives," Professor Conigrave says.
As for breast-feeding mums, the advice remains that "not drinking alcohol is safest for baby".
Any alcohol you drink will pass through the placenta to your baby and can cause:
• Lower birth weights
• Miscarriage
• Stillbirth
• Premature birth
• Birth defects
• A range of conditions known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)