I like to drink. I enjoy a glass of wine (or two) with dinner a few times a week.
But ever since medical school, it has been drilled into my head that the “safe” limit of alcohol consumption for men was 14 standard drinks per week and for women, 9. For those who may not know, a standard drink is defined as: 5 oz wine, 1 bottle/pint of beer, 1.5 oz liquor .
So, I try to abide by that recommendation for myself, and for my husband. All in the name of keeping us healthy. After all, moderate consumption of alcohol has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, right?
But recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement that for the prevention of cancer, there is NO safe limit of alcohol consumption. http://www.cmaj.ca/content/183/16/1861.full. So, no longer is it “safe” to tell patients to limit their alcohol consumption to the above-stated guidelines, for if I do, and that patient develops cancer, I could be held accountable. Of course, there is no known cause-effect, but if the standard of care changes, I could be in a lot of hot water.
“Although guidelines are currently practical for health professionals and health authorities, the time has come to reconsider them using a scientific basis independent of any cultural and economic considerations and to discuss the eventuality of abandoning them. Considering our current knowledge of the relationship between alcohol consumption and cancer risk, national health authorities should be aware of the possible legal consequences of promoting drinking guidelines that allow consumers to believe that drinking at low or moderate levels is without risk.”
So here I am, taking away yet one more vice from my patients, and myself.