Men are currently advised to drink no more than 3-4 units a day, which could be lowered to match the advice for women at 2-3 units.
According to newspaper reports, drinkers could also be advised to abstain two days a week, in line with Scottish guidelines.
Pint of beer
The changes could ring alarm bells for licensees, as guidelines allow men to drink one pint of beer at up to 5.2%abv and still fall within the guidelines, while women can drink a 175ml glass of 13% wine.
Guidelines have not been reviewed in 20 years. Work on the review has been underway since early 2013, after the Science and Technology Committee recommended guidelines should be reviewed in the light of emerging science.
Research revealed earlier this year by Harvard School of Public Health concluded one glass of wine a day for women could increase the risk of breast cancer.
The new guidelines are set to be published “in coming months”.
It will include evidence from experts including epidemiologists, behavioural science experts, communication specialists, medical experts and public health experts.
A spokesman for the Portman Group said: “It does seem odd to suddenly suggest that men and women should be assigned the same lower risk guidelines bearing in mind they process alcohol differently and have had different guidelines since 1989.
"Any change to the lower risk drinking guidelines must be scientific and evidence-based but it would be inappropriate to comment until the Chief Medical Officer publishes the full report.”
The British Beer and Pub Association and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers want an evidence-based approach, and for consumers to have reasoning behind and changes clearly explained.
The BBPA also wants the industry to have a say in any consultation.
The Sunday Times has reported that a source with knowledge of the Department of Health's alcohol guidelines discussion informed them it is to be lowered. Research into the links between drinking and cancer is said to be a "game changer" in the move.