Is there a safe limit of alcohol you can drink? New guidelines from Canada say there's not

It should always be Dry January, according to new guidelines on alcohol consumption released in Canada, concluding no amount of alcohol is safe and having any more than two drinks a week is risky.

The report by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) marks a big shift from its previous guidelines in 2011, which recommended no more than 15 drinks for men and 10 drinks for women per week to reduce long-term health risks. 

They're also dramatically different to current Australian guidelines, which say healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week. 

The CCSA has also called for health warning labels that include cancer risks to be placed on alcohol containers, and there have been similar calls for the same to happen in Australia. 

So how much alcohol is safe? Why do guidelines vary? And should there be health labels on alcohol bottles? Let's take a closer look.

What did the Canadian report find?

The CCSA report was two years in the making and involved a panel of about two dozen experts examining nearly 6,000 peer-reviewed studies.

The University of Saskatchewan's Peter Butt, who co-chaired the project to develop the guidance, told the ABC lots of new evidence had emerged since the last guidelines were released more than a decade ago. 

Crucially, the new guidelines have found there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, and that any more than two drinks a week poses a risk to health. 

"Risk increases with the amount consumed, and by our definition of 'low risk' — which is an international one with regards to people engaging in voluntary activity — what we found is one to two of our standard drinks per week would be considered low, three to six of our standard drinks per week would be considered moderate, and seven plus would be considered increasingly high in terms of the risk zones," Dr Butt said. 

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