By Age Group
On November 25, 2011 the first ever national low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines were released in Canada. The Canadian Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines (LRDG) are intended for people of legal drinking age who choose to drink alcohol and are based on the most recent and best available scientific research and evidence. They are intended to provide consistent information across the country to help Canadians control their alcohol consumption and reduce their immediate and long-term alcohol-related harm. For more detailed information about the guidelines, visit the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse website.
Average long-term alcohol use (i.e., as low as one or two drinks per day) can lead to many types of cancers (mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, breast, colon and rectum). It can also lead to other serious health conditions such as seizures, pancreatitis, low birth weight, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), stroke, irregular heartbeat, liver cirrhosis and high blood pressure, mental health issues and alcohol dependence.
The short-term risks during or after a specific drinking occasion include an increased risk of injuries associated with motor vehicle crashes or abusive or violent behavior, as well as other harms such as alcohol poisoning.
In order to reduce long-term health risks from drinking alcohol, the Canadian LRDG recommends drinking no more than:
• 10 drinks a week for women, with no more than 2 drinks a day most days
• 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than 3 drinks a day most days
In addition, plan non-drinking days every week to avoid developing a habit.
Over 300 Simcoe Muskoka adults (19 years and older) were asked questions about the Canadian LRDG as part of the 2013 Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS). Among all Simcoe Muskoka adults of legal drinking age (19 years and older), only 14% (10.1%, 18.1%) reported hearing about the Canadian LRDG; however, 36% (30.1%, 42.5%) of current drinkers of alcohol said that they would change the amount of alcohol they drink if the LRDG said they should. Additionally, 55% (48.0%, 61.1%) of current drinkers said that labeling bottles of alcohol with the Canadian LRDG would help them follow the guidelines.
In Simcoe Muskoka, the proportion of adults ages 19+ that exceeded the LRDG for long-term health effects was consistent over time and has been significantly higher than the provincial average since 2003. In 2013/2014, 24% (21.2%, 26.6%) of Simcoe Muskoka adults (19 years and older) reported consuming more alcohol than recommended in the LRDG. The Ontario rate for this same time period was 20% (19.7%, 21.2%).
In 2013/2014, 30% (26.6%, 34.9%) of Simcoe Muskoka men exceeded the LRDG compared to 17% (13.7%, 20.6%) of women. Significantly more men in Simcoe Muskoka drank in excess of the LRDG compared with the Ontario average for males (25% (24.3%, 26.7%)).
By Age Group
Drinking in excess of the Canadian LRDG decreases with age. The age-specific percentages of Simcoe Muskoka adults drinking in excess of the Canadian LRDG were not significantly different from the comparable provincial averages.
In Ontario in 2013/2014, drinking in excess of the Canadian LRDG increased significantly with higher levels of household income. The Simcoe Muskoka data also follows this pattern with the exception of those in the middle twenty per cent (or quintile) of household income, which exceeded the LRDG significantly more than the provincial average for those in the middle income quintile (30% (22.5%, 39.6%) vs. 20% (18.5%, 21.7%)).