Health chief defends safe alcohol guidelines

Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies
Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies

The idea that drinking a glass of red wine a day is good for you is an “old wives’ tale”, England’s Chief Medical Officer has said.

Dame Sally Davies defended a move to issue new guidance on drinking, saying there was a need to update the advice based on new scientific evidence.

She said people needed to take into account the clear link between alcohol and cancer.

But people remained at “low risk” if they drank up to 14 units per week across three or four days, she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

The new guidance, from the UK’s chief medical officers, says that no level of regular drinking is without risk to health.

Men should consume no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, down from the previous 21 units, bringing them into line with the recommendation for women.

People should have several booze-free days a week and not “save up” their 14 units for a binge.

The guidance says pregnant women should avoid alcohol altogether as there is no evidence for a “safe” drinking level.

Downing Street said it was up to individuals whether they took the guidance into account.

A No 10 spokesman said: “The Prime Minister’s view is very much that the Chief Medical Officer has published new guidance today. It’s right that the information is out there and it is up to individuals whether or not they wish to look at that and take it into account.”

Asked if Mr Cameron drank less than 14 units a week, the spokesman replied: “I haven’t discussed the Prime Minister’s nutritional intake with him.”