Here’s why guidance on alcohol consumption is being considered in Washington

FILE-A woman sips a drink from a bar in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Alcohol consumption is at the center of a debate between lawmakers and health officials in Washington, D.C., when it comes to a safe and adequate amount for people to drink.

Current federal dietary guidelines set limits for drinking alcohol for men and women, but this may change in 2025 when the Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments update their recommendations for alcohol consumption, which is being evaluated independently of dietary guidelines. 

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These considerations have sparked disagreement among government agencies, the alcohol industry, and politicians in D.C. over the amount of information that should be included in the final recommendations, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

A Health and Human Services panel is assessing the effect alcohol can have on a person’s health as they push for restrictions on drinking based on scientific studies, but some politicians and alcohol-industry advocates aren’t in favor of setting drinking limits. 

Discussions surrounding limiting alcohol consumption have been introduced in past years. In 2020, a subcommittee of the Health and Human Services panel that advises dietary guidelines pushed for the federal government to lower drinking limits, arguing that men and women should drink one alcoholic beverage daily. 

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But the Wall Street Journal noted that federal officials that same year decided there wasn’t sufficient evidence to set new drinking restrictions. 

In December 2023, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released a study explaining that cutting back or stopping alcohol use could lower risks for certain types of cancers. 

The World Health Organization also contends that no amount of alcohol is safe as the agency cited evidence suggesting that it can cause cancer, the Wall Street Journal reported.

This story was reported from Washington, D.C.