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Brits told to have two alcohol-free days a week

MPs are advising Brits to ensure they have at least two alcohol-free days each week in a review released today (Monday 9 January).

A report by the Science and Technology Committee says public understanding of the current alcohol guidelines and alcohol units are "poor".

As it stands, men are told to drink no more than three to four units of alcohol a day and women less than two to three units a day.

The committee has urged the government to re-evaluate the guidelines, ensuring the unit allowances are not increased.

It also supports the creation of separate alcohol guidelines for older people after hearing evidence from the Royal College of Physiatrists that 'safe limits' are too high for older people.

A report by the RCP, published in June 2011, suggests the upper 'safe limit' for older people is 1.5 units per day or 11 units per week.

"Alcohol guidelines are a crucial tool for Government in its effort to combat excessive and problematic drinking. It is vital that they are up-to date and that people know how to use them," said Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the committee.

"Unfortunately, public understanding of how to use the guidelines and what an alcohol unit looks like is poor, although improving.

"While we urge the UK Health Departments to re-evaluate the guidelines more thoroughly, the evidence we received suggests that the guidelines should not be increased and that people should be advised to take at least two drink-free days a week."

A lack of expert consensus over the health benefits of alcohol rendered the committee "sceptical" over using them as a basis for daily unit guidelines.

Men aged over 40 and post-menopausal women were the only people found to enjoy any protective effects of alcohol.

The committee has recommended the DH and devolved health departments should establish a working group to review the evidence and advise whether the guidelines should be revised.

Royal College of Psychiatrists