Different guidelines for different countries? On the scientific basis of low-risk drinking guidelines and their implications

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Abstract

The scientific evidence for low-risk drinking guidelines was examined in a narrative review focusing on three points: definition of exposure, the best way to select outcomes and risk relations and how to determine thresholds. With respect to exposure, at least two dimensions should be incorporated: average volume of alcohol consumption and patterns of irregular heavy drinking occasions. Mortality should be selected as the most severe outcome, and a disaggregated approach should be adopted incorporating the regional demographic and cause of death structure. Finally, our plea is for establishing a general threshold for acceptable risk on a societal level rather than ad hoc specific committees setting norms for specific risks. Acceptable thresholds will be different if the risk is to oneself or to others.

[Rehm J, Patra J. Different guidelines for different countries? On the scientific basis of low-risk drinking guidelines and their implications. Drug Alcohol Rev 2012;31:156–161]

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