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The New U.S. Dietary Guidelines Downplay This Health Risk, Science Says

The scientific community is at odds with new government recommendations for safe alcohol consumption.
FACT CHECKED BY Checkmark Joseph Neese
drinking alcohol

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a new set of dietary guidelines on Tuesday meant to inform healthy food choices and policies in the country for the next five years. The document included guidance for infant and toddler diets for the first time ever, as well as new advice for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Despite this progress, the scientific community is raising concerns about one area where recommendations were not updated: alcohol consumption.

Scientists on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that guidance for safe alcohol consumption needed to be revised from two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women to one drink a day for both men and women, according to CNN. But the website for the new guidelines claims "there was not a preponderance of evidence in the material the committee reviewed to support specific changes, as required by law." As a result, the USDA and DHHS maintain that "moderate consumption" of alcohol for men, which is considered safe, equals up to two drinks a day. (Related: The One Vitamin Doctors Are Urging Everyone to Take Right Now.)

Representatives from the medical community maintain that such advice is misleading. Dr. Nigel Brockton, the vice president of research for American Institute for Cancer Research, said in a statement to CNN that keeping the two-drinks-per-day guideline implies that there is a safe quantity of alcohol for men to consume daily, when in reality, there is not.

"That advice is contrary to the convincing evidence that intake of even less than one drink per day elevates the risk for several cancer types, including head and neck, esophageal, and breast cancers," the statement reads.

While government agencies and scientists can't seem to agree on how much alcohol is actually safe, drinking alcohol every single day, no matter the amount, is more dangerous than you may think. Don't believe us? Read up about What Happens To Your Body If You Drink Alcohol Every Day.

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Mura Dominko
Mura Dominko is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!. Read more