Views & Reviews Personal View

Guidelines on safe alcohol drinking are probably about right

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 24 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5082
  1. Rahul (Tony) Rao, consultant, old age psychiatry, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London SE5 8RS, UK
  1. tony.rao{at}

As the UK looks again to its alcohol recommendations, we have a much clearer evidence base to inform guidelines, writes Rahul T Rao

How much is it safe to drink? A statement from the Department of Health confirms that “a group of independent experts tasked with developing alcohol guidelines for the UK chief medical officers are currently researching and developing a proposal on these guidelines and expecting to consult on them in autumn 2015” (Department of Health, personal communication, July 2015).

It is 20 years since the Department of Health added daily drinking guidelines of 3-4 units for men and 2-3 for women to the existing 1987 weekly recommendations of 21 units for men and 14 for women. A more recent recommendation of having at least two alcohol-free days a week has only added to the confusion over the complex relationship between alcohol and health, particularly in mixed age populations.1

Bearing in …

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