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UK drinking guidelines are better for the alcohol industry than the public

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 27 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6023
  1. Mark A Bellis, professor of public health, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 2ET
  1. m.a.bellis{at}

Barely a month passes without debate over illness relating to alcohol consumption, or its health benefits when consumed in moderation (BMJ 2011;342:d671, doi:10.1136/bmj.d671; BMJ 2011;342:d3950, doi:10.1136/bmj.d3950; BMJ 2010;341:c5957, doi:10.1136/bmj.c5957). Health professionals as well as members of the public could be forgiven for being confused about how much to drink or how to advise others. For drinkers who wish to protect their own health one of the first ports of call is national drinking guidance ( Recent presentations of such guidance, however, are more likely to increase harms to health.

Many variations of this guidance can already be found on leaflets and websites. Typically it is stated that “men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol per day, and women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units of alcohol per day. Regularly means drinking these amounts every day or most days of the week.” In supermarkets and on the national “drink aware” website you can find this guidance contorted from a daily maximum into a recommended …

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