Last year the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) published its draft alcohol guidelines stating that Australians should consume no more than 10 drinks a week to reduce your risk of harm from alcohol.

The guidelines also recommend no more than four standard drinks in any one day and that for some people not drinking at all is the safest option.

Now Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) says that some government funded research used to underpin the NHMRC’s draft guidelines was not included in the draft report. That research reveals that Australians could consumer up to 28 drinks per week and still have no greater risk of death than that of a lifetime teetotaller.

The ABA says the 10-drink-a-week guideline is based on is based on only drinking three says a week, which the association says is a “serious departure” from previous guidelines which gave recommendations for drinking across seven days a week.

Alcohol Beverages Australia CEO Andrew Wilsmore said: “This is not a call for Australians to drink more but a call for transparent advice to ensure Australian men and women are fully informed of the risks based on the number of occasions they choose to drink in a week.

“Most Australians drink alcohol for enjoyment, relaxation and sociability, and do so responsibly. The NHMRC drinking guidelines which help determine harmful levels of consumption are extremely important and must have credibility within both the health community and the public.

“Considering that Government research found that the public considered the 2009 Guidelines ‘unrealistic’, these harsher, more restrictive, less balanced and poorly targeted Draft Guidelines do not provide more hope of being found to be acceptable by the public, and arguably stand far less chance of public acceptance.

“Australians should not be made to feel guilty about enjoying a drink or a couple sharing a bottle of wine over dinner.

“Also missing from the expert advice are important findings that reveal moderate alcohol consumption can also provide a protective effect against certain cardiovascular diseases. Moderate alcohol consumption actually saves more than 3500 Aussie lives a year from chronic conditions, and on current consumption levels in Australia more women’s lives are saved than lost from alcohol-attributed disease or injury – a net of 308 lives.

“Australians accept risk every day of the week, whether it’s the food they eat, the activities they pursue or the lifestyle choices they make. Choices over how much risk is involved in drinking are made every day by Australian men and women, and it is critical that these choices are based on scientifically rigorous and transparent processes.”

Earlier this year, after Wilsmore questioned ‘how can we trust the draft drinking guidelines?’. The NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso AO responded by saying “you can trust the draft guidelines”.

Professor Kelso told The Shout: “The draft guidelines for reducing health risks from drinking alcohol have been developed with the same rigour that the National Health and Medical Research Council brings to all its advice to the community.

“NHMRC has a long history of providing advice to Australians on a wide range of health matters including nutrition, infant feeding, infection control, blood lead levels, drinking water quality and the health effects of fluoridating drinking water.

“We also invest over $800m dollars a year in research to improve the health of all Australians.

“The guidelines were developed by a group of 14 leading clinicians, public health experts and researchers as well as a community representative.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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