A new study shows that young Canadians are tipping back more drinks than national guidelines recommend.

The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, shows as many as 60 per cent of young people, aged 18 to 24, were consistently drinking above daily consumption guidelines.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research of B.C. The study's sample consisted of 43,242 Canadians aged 15 and over who responded to the Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey between 2008 and 2010.

The centre's study painted a bleaker picture than a national survey conducted between 2008 to 2012 by Health Canada. That study showed that just 18 per cent of young drinkers, aged 15 to 24, drank above the national guidelines.

The B.C. study also shows that nearly 40 per cent of all Canadian drinkers are exceeding daily drinking limits, established to minimize short-term health effects, such as accidents, injuries and acute illnesses. Those guidelines set a limit of three drinks a day for women and four for men.

Many drinkers exceed limits

The B.C. study found that another 27 per cent of people surveyed exceed weekly limits set to minimize risk for long-term health problems. The weekly maximum recommended to reduce problems such as cancer and liver disease is 10 drinks for women and 15 for men.

One of the study's co-authors, Tim Stockwell, said health professionals need to take heavy drinking more seriously.

"More Canadians, particularly young people, are putting themselves at risk for long and short-term harms, ranging from car crashes to cancer,"  Stockwell said.

He argues policy-makers and health agencies use national statistics that underestimate those risks.