LONDON, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- The British House of Commons said it was "skeptical about using the purported health benefits of alcohol" as a basis for safe and sensible drinking limits.
A report issued Monday recommended that national and local health departments establish a working group to review the matter and advise whether safe-drinking guidelines should be altered.
"We are skeptical about using the purported health benefits of alcohol as a basis for daily guidelines for the adult population, particularly as it is clear that any protective effects would only apply to men over 40 years and post-menopausal women," the report said.
Evidence suggests that, in the context of the current guidelines, the public should have at least two alcohol-free days a week and the sensible drinking limits should not be increased, it said.
Because "little evidence" is available to indicate the guidelines have been effective in changing behavior, they should be treated as a "tool for informing the public," the report said.
"Efforts should be focused on helping people to understand the guidelines and how to use them," the report said.
The British government is working with the alcoholic beverage industry to ensure that more than 80 percent of its products will have labels that include alcoholic unit content and the drinking guidelines by the end of 2013.
"The government should remain mindful that sensible drinking messages may conflict with the business objectives of drinks companies and exercise proper scrutiny and oversight," the report said. "There are sufficient concerns about the current drinking guidelines to suggest that a thorough review of the evidence concerning alcohol and health risks is due."
The report said government officials should conduct an interim assessment in December 2012 rather than wait for the target date of December 2013.