Under the Chief Medical Officer’s updated guidelines men and women will be advised that:

  • You are safest not to regularly drink more than 14 units per week, to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level 
  • If you do drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread this evenly over three days or more. If you have one or two heavy drinking sessions, you increase your risks of death from long term illnesses and from accidents and injuries
  • The risk of developing a range of illnesses (including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases with any amount you drink on a regular basis
  • If you wish to cut down the amount you’re drinking, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week

The CMO’s guidelines on pregnancy and drinking are also changing with pregnant women now being advised not to drink any alcohol at all. If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.

Elaine Hindal, chief executive of alcohol education charity Drinkaware says: "We welcome the clarity of these new alcohol guidelines which will help people make better choices about their drinking and give them practical advice - such as taking drink-free days – to reduce the short and long term health risks of alcohol.

“Our own research suggests that aside from the well-known impacts on the liver, broader alcohol-related health risks such as heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer are not commonly understood by many people.

“Lowering the limit for men to 14 units per week– around six pints of average strength beer - bringing it in line with the maximum limit for women, may help to simplify the message that excessive drinking carries an increased risk of heath harms.

“We also welcome the new, clearer advice to pregnant women not to drink at all to keep the risks to their baby to a minimum. We will support the Chief Medical Officers in communicating the new advice through our website and resources as soon as is practically possible.”

For more information on the new alcohol guidelines visit https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcoholic-drinks-units/alcohol-limits-unit-guidelines/




Maryellen Clare, Media and Public Affairs Officer on mclare@drinkaware.co.uk/ 020 7766 9914 / 07917 135436

Tom Keating, Media and Public Affairs Assistant on tkeating@drinkaware.co.uk / 0207 766 9910

Notes to Editors:

  • The Chief Medical Officer’s new alcohol guidelines will take effect immediately, although the wording of the guidelines is issued for consultation. Closing date for responses is 1 April 2016.
  • Drinkaware is an independent UK-wide, alcohol education charity with the objective of positively changing public behaviour and the national drinking culture. We aim to reduce alcohol misuse and minimise harm by helping people make better choices about their drinking. We achieve this by providing impartial, evidence-based information, advice and practical resources; raising awareness of alcohol and its harms and by working collaboratively with partners (including the medical community, public health, third sector organisations, local authorities, police and the drinks industry). For further information visit www.drinkaware.co.uk