Dr. George Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, says his agency is reconsidering alcohol intake recommendations for Americans and is looking toward Canada for guidance, where the government is advising people to reduce alcohol use.
Koob said he is watching Canada’s “big experiment” and “If there’s health benefits, I think people will start to re-evaluate where we’re at [in the U.S.],” The Daily Mail reported last week.
Current U.S. dietary guidelines, which are up for review in 2025, recommend limiting drinking to 2 drinks a day or less for men and 1 drink a day or less for women.
Canada changed its previous guidance earlier this year from being similar to the U.S. to now advising people to “consider reducing their alcohol use.” It states that only drinking one to two drinks a week poses a “low risk of harms” while seven or more drinks a week “represents an increasingly high risk of harms,” and regardless of weekly alcohol intake, no more than two drinks a day are recommended.
If the U.S. updates its guidance “in any direction, it would be toward Canada,” Koob also told the Mail. “I mean, they’re not going to go up, I’m pretty sure.”
Koob, who admits that he enjoys a couple of glasses of wine a week, also said that there were “no benefits” to drinking alcohol for physical health.
“Most of the benefits people attribute to alcohol, we feel they really have more to do with what someone’s eating rather than what they’re drinking,” he also said. “So it really has to do with the Mediterranean diet, socio-economic status, that makes you able to afford that kind of diet and make your own fresh food and so forth.”
However, he did say alcohol is a “social lubricant” that could have benefits socially.
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