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Is cutting back on alcohol really a good idea? What does the evidence suggest?

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

There is strong scientific evidence to support the idea that reducing alcohol consumption can have a number of health benefits. Here are a few examples of studies that have been conducted in the UK and that provide evidence for the benefits of reduced alcohol consumption:

  1. The Chief Medical Officer's (CMO) Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines, published by Public Health England in 2016, recommend that both men and women should not regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week. This guideline is based on evidence that suggests that regularly drinking more than this amount increases the risk of a number of health problems, including liver disease, certain cancers, and cardiovascular disease.

  2. A study published in the British Medical Journal in 2014 found that people who drank more than the recommended amount of alcohol had a higher risk of dying from all causes, including cancer and cardiovascular disease, compared to those who drank within the recommended limits.

  3. A review published in the Cochrane Library in 2018 examined the evidence on the effectiveness of interventions to reduce alcohol consumption. The review found that interventions such as brief advice, self-help materials, and brief counseling were all effective in reducing alcohol consumption and improving health outcomes.

Overall, the scientific evidence supports the idea that reducing alcohol consumption can have significant health benefits, and the CMO's Low Risk Drinking Guidelines provide evidence-based recommendations for how much alcohol is safe to consume. References:

  • Chief Medical Officer's (CMO) Low Risk Drinking Guidelines. (2016). Public Health England.

  • Stockwell, T., Zhang, J., & Panwar, S. (2014). Acute and long-term health effects of alcohol consumption: An update. British Medical Journal, 349, g4164.

  • Kaner, E. F., Beyer, F. R., Muirhead, C., Campbell, F., Pienaar, E. D., & Ronksley, P. E. (2018). Interventions for reducing alcohol consumption. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (7).

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