Denmark advises no alcohol consumption for under-18s

All young people aged under 18 have been advised not to drink alcohol in new guidelines issued by the Danish Health Authority.

empty beer cans in denmark
The Danish Health Authority recommends all people under age 18 avoid alcohol. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The advice is part of new general Danish recommendations on alcohol consumption, the health authority said in a statement.

The new recommendation for under-18s not to drink alcohol at all is based on knew knowledge of the detrimental effect on the development of the brain caused by alcohol in young people, the Danish Health Authority said.

Memory, learning, planning, decision making, impulse control and language can all be affected by alcohol when the brain is still developing, according to the health authority.

“We have a special focus on young people. We know that young people who drink large amounts of alcohol at once are at increased risk from accidents, violence and unwanted sex,” Niels Sandø, head of department with the Danish Health Authority, told news wire Ritzau.

“Alcohol can also be harmful and affect both memory and learning ability in children and young people, whereby the brain still is still developing. We have therefor tightened our recommendations in relation to children and young people under 18 years such that we now advise against them drinking alcohol,” he said.

In addition to discouraging alcohol entirely for people under 18, the Danish Health Authority has changed its recommendations for the number of alcohol units people older than 18 should drink.

Under the new guidelines, adult women and men alike are advised to drink no more than 10 units a week and no more than four in one day.

That replaces outgoing recommendations which stated that 14 units for men and 7 units for women gave a low risk of disease related to alcohol consumption. The risk increased to “high” for weekly intakes of 14 units (women) and 21 units (men).

As such, the new guidelines do not differentiate between men and women.

That is because the risk of illness or death is almost equal for men and women if consumption is above 10 units per week, according to the health authority.

The risk increases more steeply for women than men at higher consumption levels, however.

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Danish hospital made 293 cancer patients wait too long for surgery

Some 293 bowel cancer patients at Aarhus University Hospital waited longer than they should have to undergo surgery.

Danish hospital made 293 cancer patients wait too long for surgery

The Central Jutland health authority, which administrates the hospital in Aarhus, gave the figure in a review it released on Thursday.

The admission from the regional health board comes after broadcaster DR had reported that 182 patients with serious bowel cancer had waited too long for an operation at Aarhus University Hospital (AUH).

The period covered by DR’s reporting is May to December 2022, while the figure from Region Central Jutland is for January 2022 until February 2023.

Danish law requires cancer patients to be operated on within two weeks of the decision to operate being made.

But the Region Central Jutland review shows that the surgery deadline for patients at the department for stomach and bowel surgery at AUH was exceeded by up to 56 days.

On average, the two-week waiting time was exceeded by an average of 12.7 days for the 293 patients, according to the review.

“AUH cannot rule out that the extra waiting time for operations has caused a deterioration of disease in some of the patients who waited longer than the maximum waiting times,” the review states.

The review was ordered by the Danish Health Authority after the waiting time issue was reported by DR last weekend.

AUH’s stomach and bowel surgery is highly specialised to a degree that some patients with advanced bowel cancer cannot be treated anywhere else in Denmark, according to news wire Ritzau.

Failure to operate within deadlines is primarily a result of a shortage of nurses at the department, according to the review.

“The shortage of nurses has meant that it was necessary to remove beds for the entirety of 2022 at Stomach and Bowel Surgery, AUH,” it states.

The executive director of Region Central Jutland, Helene Bilsted Probst, writes in the review that the authority “looks on this matter very seriously”.

A number of measures have been initiated to ensure the department complies with waiting times, the review also says.

Region Central Jutland is set to meet with Danish Health Authority officials over the matter on Friday. Possible national measures will reportedly be discussed at the meeting, including a potential plan to ensure highly specialised surgical procedures can be conducted at more than one hospital in Denmark.

READ ALSO: What exactly is wrong with the Danish health system?