News Quiz: New alcohol guidelines are out, but do you know what’s safe? 
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Quiz: New alcohol guidelines are out, but do you know what’s safe? 

alcohol consumption
What is a standard drink and what's a safe amount? Take the quiz to test your knowledge. Photo: Getty
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From Bob Hawke to David Boon, Australians have been known to love the grog.

We are some of the heaviest drinkers in the world, each consuming more than 10 litres of pure alcohol per year, according to the World Health Organisation.

But drinking, a favourite national past time, can come with serious consequences to your health and wellbeing.

Last Tuesday, the National Health and Medical Research Council released new guidelines on the ‘safe’ level of drinking. The limits may shock some.

(Keep scrolling for a quiz to test your knowledge on safe alcohol consumption.)

The new advice is that Australians should have no more than 10 standard drinks in a week and no more than four a day.

The guidelines replace those developed in 2009 that recommended a maximum of 14 drinks a week.

And there’s been a change to the advice for breastfeeding mothers – women who are pregnant, or planning to get pregnant, should not drink at all.

The advice for drinking while pregnant or breastfeeding has also been updated. Photo: Getty

The change reflects how alcohol consumption can affect the baby, not the mother.

Not drinking is safest for the babies of women who are breastfeeding, the report said.

“When a woman drinks alcohol, if she’s breastfeeding, then there’s alcohol in that breastmilk,” Professor Anne Kelso from the council said.

“So the baby is actually receiving that alcohol.

“We know of no safe limit for alcohol consumption for a baby, and so it’s really best if women who are breastfeeding don’t drink.”

The advice around how much you should let your teenager drink has also changed: Those who are under 18 should not drink at all.

The previous guidance was that there should be no alcohol for those under 15 and that parents should try and delay their 15-17-year-olds having a drink, for as long as possible.

Each year there are 4000 alcohol-related deaths, 70,000 hospital admissions and links to more than 40 medical conditions.

Professor Wayne Hall is the director of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland. He said the new guideline would likely be criticised as “they require drinking at a much lower level than many drinkers would think of as ‘moderate’.”

“They are nonetheless supported by a large body of evidence in which the various harms of alcohol rise steeply above the levels of drinking recommended in the guidelines,” Professor Hall said.

The challenge would be winning the endorsement of the general public, he said.

“The ubiquity of alcohol use in Australian life, and the political influence of the alcohol industry, are major impediments to educating the public about the under-appreciated risks of consuming our favourite psychoactive drug, alcohol.”