VANCOUVER - It turns out Canadians lowball the amount of alcohol they consume by up to 75 per cent, especially when it comes to wine.

A study by the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research says surveys of alcohol consumption are crucial when it comes to estimating disease and injury caused by people's favourite recreational drug.

But the centre's director, Tim Stockwell, says it's easier for society to ignore the risks associated with alcohol consumption when policies are based on a gross underestimation of how much people actually drink.

The study published in the journal Addiction includes three years of data from daily Health Canada phone surveys of 45,000 people across the country between 2008 and 2012.

Stockwell says Canadians were asked how many drinks they'd had over the last week, the last month, the last year and then the day before — a question that provided the most accurate amount based on memory.

He says the results showed that people reported only about one third of their consumption when the amounts were compared to how much alcohol was actually sold every year — 8.2 litres of pure alcohol per person aged 15 and over.

The study says Canadians in the North are likely to drink more and residents in Eastern Canada drink the least compared to national figures.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the study includes 2 years of data.