A glass – or two – a day keeps the doctor away? Not in France.
French health officials announced Tuesday that the country should drink less alcohol, urging adults over the age of 18 to follow three new benchmarks:
- Drink no more than two glasses of wine or other alcoholic beverages per day
- Drink no more than 10 glasses per week
- Make sure to leave "days in the week without consumption."
Alcohol kills more than 41,000 people in France per year, according to Santé Publique France, a French health agency. Twenty-four percent of French people age 18 to 75 exceed one the the three benchmarks, and the agency warned that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to diseases like hypertension and cancers.
The problem is more widespread among men than women, with 33 percent of men exceeding one of the benchmarks and 14 percent of women, according to 2017 health data.
Although French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron admitted to drinking wine daily during lunch and dinner, health officials still maintain that cutting down on alcohol is critical in lowering the risk of disease.
“That’s about 10.5 million adults who drink too much. In any case they drink in proportions that increase the risks to their health, including cancers, high blood pressure, cerebral hemorrhage, and cardiovascular diseases,” Viet Nguyen-Thanh, head of Santé Publique France's "addition unit," told France 24.
The pushback against wine has not been without critics in France. French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume said wine is "not an alcohol like any other," earlier this year and that it typically plays a small role in excessive drinking.
“Alcohol addiction is a real problem, notably among young people with binge drinking and so on,” Guillaume said in an interview with French media as translated by France 24. "It’s a real problem but I’ve never seen, to my knowledge, unfortunately, perhaps, a youngster leaving a nightclub drunk because they drank Côtes-du-Rhône, Crozes-Hermitage or Costières-de-Nîmes."
The announcement launched a new nationwide information campaign about the dangers of alcohol, running until April 12. Health officials introduced an online "alcoholometer," a quiz tell people whether they are drinking too much in their daily lives, as well as other media campaigns and public service announcements.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Non merci! Health officials say the French should drink less wine, no more than two glasses a day