The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia has called upon the people to limit their daily intake to no more than two standard drinks. More could mean cancer risk.
Cancer Council Australia's Chief Executive Officer, Professor Ian Olver, said adhering to the new guidelines, which halved the recommendation for men in the previous guidelines, would significantly reduce cancer risk.
"More than 2800 Australians are diagnosed with alcohol-related cancers each year and around 1400 die as a result," Professor Olver said. "Any alcohol consumption carries some cancer risk, and the more you drink the higher the risk. Alcohol may seem an accepted part of Australian cultural life, but people need to know that drinking incurs a significant cancer risk. Moderating consumption means moderating risk."
Professor Olver said alcohol increased the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, bowel, liver and female breast. There was no evidence of alcohol consumption having a protective effect against any cancer.
He said halving the recommended daily limit from four drinks to two for Australian men should send a message that drinking can cause serious short and long-term harm. The authority of the NHMRC, Australia's peak government body for developing health advice, would hopefully persuade men who drank to limit their alcohol consumption.
"While Cancer Council Australia would have preferred the recommended daily limit for women to have been reduced from two standard drinks to one, the guidelines are a big step in the right direction," Professor Olver said.
"Alcohol consumption can significantly raise cancer risk in women, as it is an important cause of breast cancer in women of all ages and can also increase breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women by leading to weight gain. Women need to be particularly cautious about their intake."
Professor Olver said the guidelines were for guidance only and that alcohol-free days would also reduce risk.
He said the guidelines' aim of fostering an informed approach to countering Australia's harmful drinking culture was consistent with the Government's proposed "alcopops" tax, which had been shown to reduce net alcohol consumption.