Australia's new guideline on alcohol consumption has stated that two alcoholic drinks a day can put people at a greater risk of dying.
The guidelines, which were released on March 6 by Australia's top health advice body, warn that the health benefits of alcohol have been overstated.
AdvertisementIt said that someone consuming two drinks a day has nearly one chance in 100 of dying from alcohol-induced injury or illness, than they do from drowning, being in a pedestrian accident or an accidental fall.
That compares with a one-in-683 lifetime risk of drowning, a one-in-403 risk of being in a pedestrian accident and a one-in-125 risk of a fatal fall, the Weekend Australian reports.
World-first modelling of the health risks of alcohol shows that above two drinks a day, the dangers escalate quickly - taking drinkers closer to better-recognised dangers such as car crashes (one in 54), cancer (one in four) and heart disease (one in four).
The guidelines, published by the National Health and Medical Research Council, also recommend that adults drink no more than four drinks on any one occasion.
Health groups greeted the guidelines, which halve limits set in 2001, enthusiastically.
Despite renewed concern from some experts that many Australians might ignore the advice, some organisations called for even tougher steps.
The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation called for mandatory health warnings reflecting the new advice to be put on all alcoholic products, while the Cancer Council Australia said it would have preferred the daily drinking limit for women to be halved again, to one drink.
Jon Currie, chairman of the NHMRC committee that compiled the new advice, said the guidelines were "not telling you what you can and can't do", but were instead designed to help Australians make informed choices about health risks.
He said the health benefits of alcohol had been exaggerated and that any positive effect could be achieved by consuming just one drink every two days. In addition, any benefit would affect only middle-aged and elderly people.
"There is no level of drinking alcohol that can be guaranteed by scientific evidence as being completely safe," News.com.au quoted Currie as saying.
However, the guidelines have already come in for the same criticism they attracted when released in draft form in October 2007, when they were attacked by some experts as too removed from most people's experience.
Alex Wodak, director of the alcohol and drug service at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, said he feared the gap between the two-drink recommended limit and many people's habits would not work.
"I fear these recommendations will be dismissed by many people," he stated.