Risks with Drinking

Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines provide adults, ages 25 to 65 who choose to drink, information on alcohol and related health risks so that they can make an informed choice about drinking.

By choosing to limit their alcohol consumption, adults can reduce their risk of short and long-term alcohol-related harms, such as injuries and certain chronic diseases. The Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition Alcohol Working Group cites that according to the research, drinking any type of alcohol - beer, wine or spirits - raises your risk of cancer.

Guidelines

ExpandGuideline 2: Minimize risk of injury and harm

Drink no more than:
  • 3 drinks (for women) at any one time
  • 4 drinks (for men) at any one time

In Ontario, the maximum Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for licensed drivers is 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood. Driving with a BAC in excess of 0.08 is a criminal offense. New drivers with a class G1 license must have a BAC of zero. Use your weight and the number of drinks per hour to estimate your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).

The safest choice is to plan ahead. Don't drink and drive.

ExpandGuideline 3: When to avoid drinking

Do not drink when:
  • Driving a vehicle or operating machinery and tools
  • Taking prescription or over-the-counter medicines or drugs that interact with alcohol
  • Doing any kind of dangerous physical activity
  • Living with mental or physical health problems
  • Pregnant or planning to be pregnant or about to breastfeed
  • Responsible for the safety of others and making important decisions
  • Living with alcohol dependence

ExpandGuideline 5: Delay your drinking

Youth should delay their drinking until their late teens, as alcohol is harmful to the development of the brain and body. Teens should plan ahead and follow local drinking laws.

If teens choose to drink, they should:
  • Drink under parental guidance
  • Never drink more than 1-2 drinks at a time, and never more than 1-2 times per week

Youth in their late teens to age 24 years should never exceed the daily and weekly limits outlined in Guideline 1.

It's important for parents to talk to their teens about alcohol.

 

Adapted with permission from Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, 2011.

Resources and Related Links

  • To obtain a copy of Canada's Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines brochure and/or Mocktail Recipe card in English, please call Toronto Health Connection at 416-338-7600, Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm.
  •  For more information and related reports, see Canada's Low Risk Drinking Guidelines.