Many Canadians think the new advice is far too strict. In the country, a glass of alcohol is part of everyday life, just like in many Western countries. The difference with the old advice, which dates from 2011, is very large: that prescribed that women were allowed to drink ten glasses of alcohol per week. For men, fifteen alcoholic drinks a week would be acceptable.
According to the prevention center, the stricter standard is necessary because alcohol increases the risk of diseases such as cancer, heart problems and stroke. These risks would already occur with the consumption of small amounts.
Risk of breast cancer
A spokesperson for the Netherlands Nutrition Center also confirms this: “Women already run an increased risk of breast cancer with one glass of alcohol per day. With two glasses or more, the risk of other diseases, such as heart failure and liver damage, and other types of cancer also increases. , such as esophageal cancer and colon cancer. These risks also apply to men, of course.”
A similar advice has therefore been in force in the Netherlands since 2016. Before that time, the Wheel of Five still gave ‘permission’ for one or two glasses a day: “We advise not to drink alcohol at all. If you still want to drink, it is wise to limit to one glass a day. And you should not save until the weekend: it is harmful to suddenly drink six glasses.”
Sociability or good behavior?
Incidentally, the non-alcoholic variants in the Netherlands are not included in the Wheel of Five: “They are healthier, because you avoid the adverse effects of alcohol, but because of the high sugar content they are not yet healthy.”
The discussion in Canada, where most of the adult population regularly consumes alcohol, revolves around the question to what extent socializing should be at the expense of good behaviour.
“We especially want to give a warning to the Canadian public about the risks,” said a professor who co-wrote the advice. “So that they can think about their alcohol consumption and make conscious choices. People have a right to know this. We are not about draining the land, we just want to reduce alcohol consumption.”
The British newspaper The Guardian writes that the NHS in Britain thinks a maximum of six glasses of alcohol per week is sensible. This should preferably be spread over at least three days. In America, an official advice applies of a maximum of two drinks per day for men and one for women.
The Canadians base their guideline on scientific evidence, which says that three to six drinks a week carries a ‘moderate risk’. From seven alcoholic drinks per week, there is a ‘high risk’ of diseases.
A professor of health sciences from Brock University in Canada is critical: “These kinds of studies pretend there are no positive effects of alcohol, in terms of health and well-being. They don’t look at the benefits at all.”
The expert even calls the guideline ‘irresponsible’, because it causes ‘tension and stress’ in people who used to think they were moderate drinkers, but are now being told that they fall into the ‘high-risk category’. “The research they give as motivation ignores the fact that alcohol also gives people pleasure, lower stress and a higher sense of friendship. We are not machines that run on food intake. We also live in a social context, and it has a major impact on our health.”
But there is also support, for example from a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto: “Alcohol is a psychoactive drug. Occasional drinking has little effect. But people don’t use it occasionally, they use it every day. convince themselves not to drink daily anymore and to moderate their consumption.”
The addiction prevention center that issued the advisory is investigating whether the risks should be labeled on bottles, possibly including pictures of health detriments, such as on cigarette packs. “If people see the long-term consequences, such as damage to the liver, that can help raise awareness.”
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