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If you enjoy a regular glass of wine, beer or spirits then this page is for you. The guidelines about how much you can drink have changed.
Until recently we thought that there might be some small benefit for your heart from having the occasional drink. But recent thinking has changed. In fact it is impossible to say that there is any level of safe drinking.
New low risk guidelines
The new low risk guidelines were announced in January 2016. The main recommendations are:
- Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week
- Your drinking should be spread over three or more days during the week
- It is important to have several drink free days during the week too
- Women who are planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding should not drink any alcohol.
What is a unit?
Alcoholic drinks come in many shapes and sizes. A unit is just a standard measure of alcohol. You can use it to help you keep a track on what you are drinking. You can work out the exact number of units in a drink by multiplying the amount of the drink (its volume in mls) by the percentage alcohol by volume (ABV) and dividing it by 1000. You can usually find the ABV on the bottle or can. For example, the number of units in a 330ml bottle of lager with a 5% ABV is:
330 x 5 = 1650 divided by 1000 = 1.65 units
Here are some typical alcoholic drinks with the number of units they contain:
- A glass (175ml) of wine is 2 units.
- A bottle (330ml) of lager is 1.7 units.
- A bottle of an alcopop is 1.7 units.
- A pub measure of spirits is 1 unit.
- A half pint of ordinary strength beer is 1 unit
So 14 units of alcohol per week could look like:
- 7 pints of ordinary strength beer
- 6-7 glasses of wine (dependent upon the strength of the wine and the size of the glass)
- 14 pub measures of a spirit.
There are lots of free apps available to help you check out your alcohol intake. Why not download one today. For instance you can check out your weekly unit and calorie intake from alcoholic drinks here.
Find out more about why alcohol is harmful.