Canadian health officials issued revised government recommendations for alcohol consumption last week, changing the low risk level from two drinks per day to two drinks per week. Health officials further said that no amount is safe and strongly suggested that citizens cut out alcohol altogether.
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that any alcohol consumption, however moderate, can have negative health consequences. Even low levels of drinking increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain types of cancer - and as alcohol consumption rises, so do the health risks and alcohol-related deaths.
Understanding that there is no such thing as risk-free drinking, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - while not going so far as its Canadian counterpart - defines moderate drinking as 2 drinks or less per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women. Still, despite the well-publicized health risks, more than two-thirds of adult drinkers regularly exceed those levels.
In some parts of the country, excessive drinking is far more common than in others. According to data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Washington residents consumed 2.26 gallons per resident 14 and older in 2020, the 16th lowest among states. Nationwide, alcohol consumption was 2.45 gallons per person the same year.
The health risks posed by excessive alcohol consumption go beyond chronic conditions. A reported 32.7% of all driving deaths in Washington between 2016 and 2020 involved alcohol.
Data on alcohol-related driving fatalities came from the 2022 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program.
|Rank||State||Per capita alcohol consumption, 2020 (Gal.)||Adults who drink excessively (%)||Driving deaths involving alcohol (%)|