TMU students say new alcohol guidelines won’t change drinking habits

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By Sukanna Naqvi

Students at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) say new alcohol consumption recommendations, recently released by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), will not impact their alcohol consumption. 

On Jan. 17, the organization released a report stating Canadians should consume less alcohol. The report drastically changed drinking guidelines from a maximum of 10 drinks per week to a limit of two.

The report, funded by Health Canada, said new research shows that reducing alcohol intake will lower health risks for diseases such as cancer, stroke and heart disease. 

Caroline Cachero, a fourth-year biomedical sciences student, said she doesn’t believe any of these diseases can come from two drinks a day.

“I find it’s really a big change and I don’t know how they came up with that,” she said. 

She’s not the only TMU student who thinks the guidelines are far too extreme to make a change in drinking among students. 

“A lot of people just don’t follow a guideline. It’s just a guideline, it’s nothing strict,” said fourth-year business student Yuvna Jayant.

Tyler Mullins, who recently graduated from TMU, said these new guidelines won’t be changing his drinking habits.

“I drink probably once a week right now,” he said.

First-year film student Alex Williams said he doesn’t have much expertise in the area but said the guidelines wouldn’t likely affect how much he drinks, especially since his habits are already in line with the regulations.

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), alcohol may cause alcoholic liver disease, which is a major cause of illness and death in North America.

CAMH added that long-term use of alcohol can, in some cases, lead to dementia and dependence may cause clinical depression.

In 2017, the economic burden of alcohol use in the country was estimated to be more than $16 billion, according to the Government of Canada

Dan Malleck, a professor in the department of health sciences at Brock University, is more concerned with the data collected by the CCSA to make this recommendation.

“They’re far more excessive in their recommendations and guidelines than their data actually suggests they should be,” he said.

Malleck argued that not only is the CCSA’s data misleading but that alcohol has some positive health benefits when it comes to socialization. 

He explained that in some cultures, alcohol is seen as a “way of building or strengthening bonds” and in Canadian society, it is a “part of positive socialization.” 

Cachero said drinking is seen as more problematic in Canada than it is in places like Europe.

“I find it’s really a big change and I don’t know how they came up with that”

“It’s typical for someone in Europe to drink wine every day with your dinner or such. Whereas here, I think it’s just like a different sort of way of living and alcohol is viewed as much more negative,” Cachero said.

Malleck said making broad claims about the harm associated with alcohol consumption can cause unnecessary concern. “To be concerned about your drinking when you’re not drinking a lot can cause, itself, that stress and worry and anxiety that some people face,” he said. 

“Not to say that drinking excessively is not problematic. I would not deny that at all or that it cannot have negative health outcomes. But this is not about access, right? This is about moderation.”

The CCSA report states drinking alcohol is not good for one’s health in any capacity, regardless of race, gender, age or lifestyle.

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