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Moderate Alcohol Consumption and Low-Risk Drinking

January 12, 2017 by HealthyFamilies BC

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moderate alcohol consumption and low risk drinking

Alcohol impacts everyone differently. In small amounts, alcohol can be beneficial. Read more to find out what moderation means.


Moderate, regular alcohol consumption

The same amount of alcohol can have a very different impact on different people. Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines recommend:

  • Women: Do not drink more than two standard drinks per day and limit consumption to 10 standard drinks by week.
  • Men: Do not drink more than three standard drinks per day and limit consumption to 15 standard drinks by week.
  • At least two non-drinking days each week to prevent it from becoming a habit.
Definition of a standard drink
1 glass of beer 340 ml 12 oz 5 per cent alcohol
1 glass of wine 140 ml 5 oz 12 per cent alcohol
1 glass of spirits 45 ml 1.5 oz 40 per cent alcohol
glass of fortified wine 85 ml 3 oz 18 per cent alcohol

The safer drinking limits are less for the elderly because their bodies are more sensitive to the toxic effects of alcohol. Some people should abstain from drinking altogether, or drink less than the recommended limits. These include people with specific health problems, people taking medication, and people with a personal or family history of alcohol dependency.

Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should not drink alcohol. Read more.

Drinking habits make the difference

When it comes to the impact on your health and life, there is a world of difference between having two drinks a day and downing 14 drinks once a week. Moderate, regular and responsible drinking requires you to limit the amount you drink on each occasion, as well as how much you drink over the course of an average week.

Research suggests that the health benefits from light alcohol consumption are maximized at a little less than a drink a day on average.

The effects of moderate, regular alcohol consumption on health vary from one person to the next. It is not possible to make recommendations that apply to all people all the time, but the low-risk drinking guidelines are the best guide for the average person.

Want to learn more? Take the Alcohol Reality Check

© Adapted from Éduc’alcool’s “Alcohol and Health” series, 2014. Used under license.
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