Alcohol and the heart in perspective: sensible limits reaffirmed


Joint report of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Psychiatrists and General Practitioners

The Royal Colleges of Physicians, Psychiatrists and General Practitioners endorsed a graded approach to risks of alcohol consumption, which led to their recommending 'sensible' limits (14 units for women and 21 for men). The question arose as to whether these 'sensible' limits should be relaxed in view of data suggesting that moderate intake of alcohol protects against coronary heart disease.

A working group of all the three Royal Colleges reviewed the evidence in the light of data on all-cause mortality, psychological risks and on the possibility that recommendations which might lead to an overall increase in alcohol consumption would also increase the number of heavy drinkers. Its conclusions are published in this report (published in 1995).

Copies available on request.


  • Introduction
  • Drinks, units, weight of alcohol and precision of estimates
  • Alcohol consumption in the population
  • Alcohol and cardiovascular disease
  • Alcohol and all-cause mortality
  • Alcohol and psychosocial problems
  • Areas of uncertainty
  • Implications and conclusions
  • Questions and answers on sensible drinking and health