Drinkers urged to re-think amounts

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Thousands of lives could be saved if Britons slashed their booze consumption, new research suggests.

Cutting average daily alcohol intake to the equivalent of around half a small glass of wine would prevent almost 4,600 premature deaths a year in England alone, it is claimed.

Scientists used a mathematical model to show that the ideal level of alcohol consumption to prevent chronic disease in England was five grams, or about half a unit.

A small 125 glass of wine contains 1.3 units. Current government guidelines of between three to four units per day for men and two to three for women ‘may not be compatible with optimum protection of public health,’ say the authors.

Eric Appleby, chief executive of the charity Alcohol Concern, says: ‘Although the government’s recommended drinking guidelines are based on medical recommendations, we need to make sure they are an easy-to-understand way of watching what you drink that’s practical for people to apply to their everyday lives.

‘As alcoholic drinks have started to vary in strength we use ‘units’ to measure alcohol intake but it can be very difficult for people to understand what this means in practical terms.

‘Although the findings of this study will be valuable for the Department of Health working group currently reviewing the drinking recommendations, the focus of the guidelines must be to gain the maximum acceptance by the drinking public, and to offer a realistic way of reducing the risks associated with drinking.’

A Department of Health spokesman said the Chief Medical Officer was reviewing current alcohol consumption guidelines.