The U.S. Guidelines for How Much You Should Drink Daily May Be Changing

A federal committee is recommending more moderation when it comes to alcohol.

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The past several months have been hard on everyone—the stress of the coronavirus pandemic, the isolation of quarantine, the disruption to our normal daily routines, and, for many people, the loss of work. It's no surprise that drinking has been on the rise, but there are serious health consequences to over-imbibing. And drinking too much could actually be easier to do than previously thought. In fact, the U.S. dietary guidelines may be changing to suggest that men should limit themselves to just one drink a day.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a federal committee has proposed that the U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans reduce the recommended drink limit for men from two drinks to one, matching the "one drink a day" guidance for women. Americans have, in fact, been drinking more during the pandemic, and researchers now believe that our current conception of "moderate drinking" is flawed.

"We looked at deaths from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and more than 60 alcohol-related conditions. Whatever kind of study you look at, two drinks a day is associated with a higher risk of death than drinking one drink a day," Boston University alcohol researcher and committee member Timothy Naimi, MD, told The Wall Street Journal. "In the context of a health document, why would you endorse people drinking up to a level in which mortality increases?"

Pensive senior man drinking red wine at home and looking away
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services will review the federal committee's recommendations before any change is implemented to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans by the end of the year. Per The Wall Street Journal, these guidelines are updated every five years, but the recommendation of a two-drink limit for men (and one-drink limit for women) has been in place since 1990.

While the committee proposed the change in July, they were not the first to suggest that the current government guidelines for moderate drinking could cause health complications, including heart disease, stroke, and cancer. A June study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs determined that people who drank according to government guidelines were more susceptible to cancer and death than those who didn't drink at all.

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Of course, the risks of drinking too much have long been established—liver damage, a compromised immune system, and sleep disturbances are just a few of the many potential complications. The question now is, how much is too much? According to Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, the federal committee's recommendations are accurate, which means men may want to consider cutting back, even before the U.S. dietary guidelines officially change.

"They conclude appropriately that two drinks is worse than one for men," he told The Wall Street Journal, "and we now have enough data to say that because of the harms of alcohol on cancers, liver diseases, accidents and other things." And for more ways to stay healthy, learn 50 Signs of Poor Health Men Should Never Ignore.

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