For your health, less alcohol is better: Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health released

Whitby, Ontario – The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) has released Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health. This guidance provides Canadians with the latest evidence-based advice on alcohol to support them in making informed decisions about its use and reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms. The new guidance indicates that all levels of alcohol consumption are associated with some risk, so drinking less is better.

CCSA analyzed recent evidence on illness, cancer risk, violence, injury, and deaths related to alcohol. Among healthy individuals, the risk for alcohol-related harms increases as follows:

  • One to two standard drinks per week is low risk.
  • Three to six standard drinks per week is a moderate risk; increases risk of developing at least seven types of cancers, including breast, esophagus, colon, rectum, liver, mouth and throat.
  • Seven or more standard drinks per week increases risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
  • With each additional drink the risk of having health problems, other diseases and injury exponentially increases (binge drinking is defined as five standard drinks or more for men and four standard drinks or more for women on an occasion).

The new guidance also addresses the specific needs of groups facing a higher risk from the harms associated with alcohol, including youth, women, older adults, and people with chronic diseases.

Other key messages found in Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health include:

  • Disproportionately more injuries, violence and deaths result from men’s drinking.
  • It is safest not to drink while pregnant and during the pre-conception period.
  • For women who are breastfeeding, it is safest not to use alcohol.

In Canada, a standard drink is 17.05 ml or 13.45 g of pure alcohol, which is equivalent to:

  • A bottle of beer (12 oz., 341 ml, five per cent alcohol).
  • A bottle of cider (12 oz., 341 ml, five per cent alcohol).
  • A glass of wine (5 oz., 142 ml, 12 per cent alcohol).
  • A shot glass of spirits (1.5 oz., 43 ml, 40 per cent alcohol).

This new information will help people to make informed decisions about their health. The CCSA recommends that if you are going to drink, consider the following tips:

  • Stick to the limits you have set for yourself.
  • Choose drinks with a lower percentage of alcohol.
  • Eat before and while you are drinking.
  • Drink slowly and in small sips.
  • Always have a pitcher of water near you.
  • For every drink of alcohol, have one non-alcohol drink.
  • Try some alcohol-free cocktail recipes.
  • Have alcohol-free weeks or have alcohol-free activities.

Choosing to reduce or cut out alcohol is a powerful choice that can help reduce your risks for cancer, heart disease and stroke, injury, and improve your overall health.

Let’s rethink the way we drink! For more information on the new Guidelines for Alcohol and Health, visit: Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health: Final Report ( or To get help for alcohol use, call Connex Ontario at 1-866-531-2600, or visit

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For more information, please contact the Health Department.


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