Drinkers should give themselves two alcohol-free days a week, a committee of MPs has said.
The Commons’ Science and Technology Committee believes that abstaining from alcohol at least twice a week would help people’s health.
Revealing the findings of their inquiry, the MPs also demanded a review of sensible drinking guidelines amid fears they are unclear, and called on ministers to “exercise proper scrutiny and oversight” over how health messages collided with the industry’s “business objectives”.
Committee chairman Andrew Miller said: “While we urge the UK health departments to re-evaluate the guidelines more thoroughly, the evidence we received suggests the guidelines should not be increased and that people should be advised to take at least two drink-free days a week.”
“Sensible” drinking limits were defined 25 years ago as 21 units of alcohol a week for men and 14 for women.
But new evidence in the 1990s claiming drinking could help prevent heart disease prompted ministers to advise daily limits of up to four units a day for men and three for women.
The Royal College of Physicians’ special adviser on alcohol, Sir Ian Gilmore, echoed calls for a review of guidelines and demanded a minimum price for alcohol.
He said: “The RCP believes that in addition to quantity, safe alcohol limits must also take into account frequency.
“There is an increased risk of liver disease for those who drink daily or near-daily compared with those who drink periodically or intermittently.”
Labour MP Mr Miller said: “Alcohol guidelines are a crucial tool for government in its effort to combat excessive and problematic drinking.
“It is vital that they are up to date and that people know how to use them.
“Unfortunately, public understanding of how to use the guidelines and what an alcohol unit looks like is poor, although improving.”