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alcohol health alliance uk

Men - is your MOT up to date?

Posted 16/06/11

Worryingly, a recent study by Men’s Health Network has shown that 70 per cent of men find it easier to look after their cars than their own health. But what many men don’t realise is that just a few small lifestyle changes can make huge difference - both now and in the future.

One of the simplest ways to look after your health is to cut down on alcohol and consider how much you drink. Even if you’re only having a quick drink after work or a pint to relax after a hard day, it’s easy to slip into a pattern where the occasional drink becomes more frequent or one drink turns into two or three. And this is already taking its toll on the health of men across the region.

Two in five North East men are currently drinking too much, consuming at or above the Government’s recommended limits on a daily or almost daily basis. For men the recommended limit is 3-4 units, or about two pints of regular strength beer or lager.

In the short term, drinking above this limit can result in anxiety, sexual difficulties such as impotence, impaired judgement leading to accidents and injuries, slowed breathing and heartbeat, loss of consciousness and potentially fatal poisoning.

And equally worrying, the long-term health risks include high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, mental health problems and liver damage.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “Many men in the North East are drinking too much, too often, which is seriously putting their health at risk.

“One of the main issues is the drinking culture we have here in the region – and the perception of how much we should be drinking. A lot of stereotypes, especially around men, are to go to the pub after work or meet friends for a few pints at the weekend. Recent research we carried out showed that this was the case, with 81% of men claiming to drink alcohol to socialise.

“Worryingly more than half of men (56%) aged between 25 and 34 think it’s acceptable to drink eight pints with friends on a night out. A lot of men feel pressure to keep up in rounds, or prove they can drink each other under the table. In fact for many this is seen as the ‘norm’. But this is dangerous and carries a number of risks.

“We aren’t saying don’t have fun, socialise or relax with the occasional drink, but men need to take more responsibility for their health.”

There are signs that men are starting to become more aware of their health. Over the past few years more than a third of men have been using the internet for health information - up 5 % on previous years. And that was the subject of last week’s Men’s Health Week.

Jim Pollard, editor of malehealth.co.uk, said: “Long-term, excessive drinking is a very bad idea. If you're concerned about your drinking you should talk to your partner, friends or GP. Of course, this is far easier said than done.

“We like alcohol, we joke about it, we use it socially and professionally - but we don't like to acknowledge the problems it causes. However, it is your responsibility to do something about it."

Moderation is the key. It’s important to stick to the recommended limits and a key way to do this is to track how much an individual drinks. People are often surprised to find out how much they are drinking on a daily or almost daily basis as it is fairly common for us to underestimate how much we consume. Keeping a drinks diary is a perfect way to take stock. For a drinks diary visit www.balancehealthharms.co.uk

By following the medical guidelines and cutting down to the recommended intake, men across the region will be steering their way to better health.