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4714.0.55.005 - Revised 2002 and 2008 NATSISS alcohol data by risk level, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, 2013  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/03/2013  First Issue
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2001 AND 2009 NATIONAL HEALTH AND MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (NHMRC) GUIDELINES


2001 Australian Alcohol Guidelines: Health Risks and Benefits

In 2001, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released guidelines on the health risks and benefits of alcohol consumption. The guidelines for minimising risk of harm in the longer term were based on evidence which showed that Australians who drank regularly, and at high levels, were at greater risk of chronic ill-health (and premature death) than those who drank less frequently and at lower levels. The guidelines for reducing risk in the short term reflected evidence that a single episode of heavy drinking places the drinker at increased risk of injury and death. The 2001 Guidelines for adults were designed for men and women of average or larger body size, that is, people over 160cm in height and 50kg in weight.

According to the 2001 NHMRC Guidelines:

  • Low risk drinking is associated with minimal risk of harm to the drinker, and potentially some health benefits
  • Risky drinking is a level of drinking at which the risk of harm significantly outweighs any potential health benefits
  • High risk drinking is associated with substantial risk of serious harm to the drinker.

5.1 NATIONAL HEALTH AND MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL — AUSTRALIAN ALCOHOL GUIDELINES: HEALTH RISKS AND BENEFITS, 2001

Level of risk

Low risk
Risky
High risk

Minimising risk in the longer term
Males
up to 4 standard drinks(a)
5–6 standard drinks(a)
7 or more standard drinks(a)
Females
up to 2 standard drinks(a)
3–4 standard drinks(a)
5 or more standard drinks(a)

Minimising risk in the short term
Males
up to 6 standard drinks(a)
7–10 standard drinks(a)
11 or more standard drinks(a)
Females
up to 4 standard drinks(a)
5–6 standard drinks(a)
7 or more standard drinks(a)

(a) One standard drink contains 12.5 mls of alcohol.

Source: National Health and Medical Research Council (2001), Australian Alcohol Guidelines: Health Risks and Benefits.


2009 Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol

In 2009, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released new guidelines designed to reduce the health risks from drinking alcohol. The new guidelines for healthy adults focus on reducing the overall lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury that results from many drinking occasions; and on reducing the immediate risk of alcohol-related injury from drinking on a single occasion. They go beyond the focus of the 2001 Guidelines by introducing the concept of progressively increasing risk of harm (with increased alcohol consumption) rather than specifying what constitutes 'low risk', 'risky' or 'high risk' drinking. The 2009 Guidelines also differ from the 2001 Guidelines in that the same levels of risks are assumed to apply to both men and women.

According to the 2009 Guidelines:
  • For healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury
  • For healthy men and women, drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.

5.2 NATIONAL HEALTH AND MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL — AUSTRALIAN GUIDELINES TO REDUCE HEALTH RISKS FROM DRINKING ALCOHOL, 2009
Level of risk

Does not exceed guidelines
Exceeds guidelines

Guideline 1 – Lifetime risk(a)
up to and including 2 standard drinks(b)
more than 2 standard drinks(b)
Guideline 2 – Single occasion risk(a)
up to and including 4 standard drinks(b)
more than 4 standard drinks(b)

(a) Guidelines relate to both males and females.
(b) One standard drink contains 12.5 mls of alcohol.

Source: National Health and Medical Research Council (2009), Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol.


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