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alcohol health alliance uk

The risks of regular drinking to be x-plained in South Tyneside

Posted 17/02/11

Shoppers in South Tyneside 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 Temple Park between Monday 21st February and Wednesday 23rd February and Felling Co-op on Thursday 24th February to encourage the region’s residents to drink within the recommended limits and reduce their risk of alcohol-related conditions.

Marietta Evans, Director of Public Health for South Tyneside at NHS South of Tyne and Wear and South Tyneside Council, said: “Drinking alcohol above the recommended levels puts people at greater risk of developing a range of serious health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and cancer.

“Excessive drinking is a concern in South Tyneside - our latest lifestyle survey indicated that 40 per cent of men and 18 per cent of women in the borough drink more than the recommended limits. We also know that local hospitals are seeing a greater number of patients admitted with alcohol-attributable illnesses than the national average.

“We are working hard to make people aware of the damage they can do to their body through regular excessive drinking and making sure services are in the place for people who need support. We would urge anyone who regularly consumes alcohol to keep a track on how much they are drinking and not exceed the recommended limits.”

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 www.balancenortheast.co.uk/harm to find out more and request a free information booklet.