09 January 2012

Commenting on the publication of the Science and Technology Select Committee’s Alcohol Guidelines report, Sir Ian Gilmore, Royal College of Physicians (RCP) special adviser on alcohol, said,

‘The RCP supports the recommendations that alcohol guidelines should be reviewed.  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.

‘We currently recommend consumption is limited to between 0 - 21 units a week for men and 0 - 14 units a week for women provided the total amount is not taken in binges and that there are two to three alcohol free days a week. At these levels, most individuals are unlikely to come to harm.

‘The RCP is also calling for the government to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol and welcomes the prime minister’s recent supportive comments. There is a clear relationship between price, alcohol consumption and health harm.  A minimum unit price of 50p would prevent around 10,000 deaths, 100,000 hospital admissions each year and over 10,000 fewer violent crimes. The total direct costs saved in England would be £7.4 billion over ten years.1


Download the Science and Technology Committee report from the parliament.uk website.

Read the RCP's written evidence to the Science and Technology Committee .

For further information, please contact Lisa Cunningham, senior public affairs and PR officer on 020 30751468 or 07990745610 or lisa.cunningham@rcplondon.ac.uk


  1. Meier P, et al. The independent review of the effects of alcohol pricing and promotion. Summary of evidence to accompany report on phase 1: Systematic Reviews.  School of Health and Related Research , University of Sheffield, UK June 2008; 2008