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The risks of regular drinking to be x-plained in Darlington

Posted 17/02/11

Shoppers in Darlington will be given x-ray vision to see the hidden damage drinking alcohol daily or almost daily could be doing to their internal organs.

Research, carried out by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, has revealed that two in five people across the region are drinking at or above the Government’s recommended limits on a daily or almost daily basis. This could be storing up future health problems.

The limits are 2-3 units a day, or roughly a standard glass and a half of wine, for a woman and 3-4 units, or about two pints of regular strength beer or lager, for a man.

Scientific evidence suggests that:

Last month, Balance launched its ‘Drinking causes damage you can’t see’ campaign to raise public awareness of these recommended limits and the risks of drinking at or above these limits on a daily or almost daily basis. It is also seeking to increase understanding of alcohol units.

As part of the campaign, Balance will be at ASDA on Monday 21st and Tuesday 22nd February, Cockerton Co-op on Friday 25th February and Mowden Co-op on Saturday 26th February to encourage the region’s residents to drink within the recommended limits and reduce their risk of alcohol-related conditions.

Steve Harker, Darlington Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Leisure, said: "We all hear a lot in the news about binge drinking and the impact this can have on our bodies.

"What many people may not consider however, is the serious, long-term damage they could be doing to their bodies by drinking every day, year after year - a glass of wine or two every night or a couple of quick pints after work every day may seem harmless to many people, but in actual fact it is this sort of drinking pattern that could put their future at risk.

"The Balance campaign will really hit this message home and offer advice and guidance to help people cut back the on amount, and how often, they drink alcohol and that it's not just binge drinking that causes damage to your health"

Claire Sullivan, consultant in public health at NHS County Durham and NHS Darlington, said: “It is important to be aware that there is a high price to pay for excessive alcohol consumption and hopefully this campaign will be an eye opener for many people.

“We’ve invested in alcohol treatment services over the last few years but we’ve still got a lot of work to do in terms of informing and educating people so that they become more aware of their levels of drinking and the harm that it has on themselves and others around them.”

Shoppers will come face to face with a life sized x ray of a human body and shown the places where alcohol-related diseases such as strokes, heart attacks, dementia, as well as mouth, throat and liver cancer could strike.

Members of the Balance team will be on hand to offer advice and hand out information. The campaign is being supported by regional advertising across TV, radio and press as well as on-line and on public transport.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, explained: “We know the majority of people across the region understand that drinking alcohol is linked to health conditions such as liver and heart disease.

“However, they may not appreciate that most people who suffer from health problems because of their drinking are not alcoholics or binge drinkers but those who drink every day, or almost every day, over a number of years.

“Many suffer few immediate consequences, but over time it takes its toll. In the North East, too many of us are drinking more than we should on a regular basis. At the same time, rates of death from alcohol related liver disease are increasing and alcohol specific hospital admissions are higher than the national average.”

He said that key to reducing the health risks is drinking within the recommended daily limits for alcohol.

“It’s easier to stay within the limits when you keep track of how much you are drinking,” he added.

“People are often surprised to find out how much they 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 and is a first step towards living a healthier life.”

The ‘Drinking causes damage you can’t see’ campaign will run until the end of the month. It is encouraging North Easterners to call 0191 261 3803 or visit to find out more and request a free information booklet.