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Canadian guidance on alcohol and health updated

Huron Perth, ON – In January, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health. The guidance replaces the 2011 Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. It is based on the latest research into alcohol as a risk factor for injuries, violence, and several chronic diseases (including cancer, heart disease and stroke). Data show that alcohol consumption causes nearly 7,000 deaths from cancer each year in Canada.

“The more drinks you have weekly, the greater the risk of alcohol-related harms,” says Lyndsay O’Donnell, Public Health Promoter at Huron Perth Public Health. “The best way to reduce your risk is to lower your alcohol use. No matter how much alcohol you currently consume, drinking less is better for your health.”

The updated advice supports people to make informed decisions about the amount of alcohol they consume. It outlines a continuum of risk associated with weekly alcohol use:

  • 0 drinks per week, zero health risk.
    • Not drinking has many health benefits, including better sleep.
  • 1-2 standard drinks per week is considered low risk.
  • 3-6 standard drinks per week is moderate risk.
    • Your risk of developing several types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer, increases.
  • 7 or more standard drinks per week is increasingly high risk.
    • Your risk of heart disease or stroke increases.

With every additional drink, your risk of alcohol-related consequences, including injuries and violence, increases.

When pregnant or trying to get pregnant, there is no known safe amount of alcohol. When breastfeeding, having no alcohol is safest.

Alcohol consumption in Huron Perth
Data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (2015-2020) show that 26% of Huron Perth residents aged 19 and older self-report consuming alcohol at a high risk level for alcohol-related consequences. This is more than the Ontario average of 21%. Seventeen percent of local residents report having three to six drinks per week, while 38% report having zero drinks in the past week. Compared to Ontario, fewer Huron Perth residents consume alcohol at a zero, low or moderate risk level.

Lower consumption means a lower risk of alcohol-related harms. No matter where you are on the continuum, less alcohol is better. If you are thinking about how you can reduce your risk, taking stock of how many standard drinks you have in a week is a good place to start. In Canada, a standard drink is:

  • Beer (12 oz., 341 ml, 5% alcohol)
  • Cider or cooler (12 oz., 341 ml, 5% alcohol)
  • Wine (5 oz., 142 ml, 12% alcohol)Spirits (1.5 oz., 43 ml, 40% alcohol)

If you, or someone you know, is looking for support to reduce alcohol consumption:

  • Talk to your health care provider
  • Call 2-1-1 or visit for social services, programs and community supports
  • Visit the HPPH website for addiction support services and other resources.

Contact Us

Huron Perth Public Health

Huron Office
77722B London Road, RR #5, Clinton, ON
N0M 1L0

Perth Office
653 West Gore St., Stratford ON N5A 1L4
Toll-free 1-888-221-2133

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