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alcohol health alliance uk

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

Posted 26/02/10

Shoppers in Middlesbrough and Marske will be given x-ray vision to see the hidden damage regular drinking could be doing to their internal organs.

Recent research carried out by YouGov shows that more than half (57%) of drinkers in the North East misguidedly believe that alcohol only damages health if people regularly get drunk or binge drink.

However, drinking more than the recommended safe limits of 2-3 units a day for women (about two small glasses of wine) and 3-4 units a day for men (about two pints of lager) every day or almost every day, seriously increases the risk of harm. Scientific evidence reveals that:

In the North East, almost one in three men and one in four women regularly drink more than their recommended daily limits.

Balance, the North East alcohol office, will be at Marske Coop between Monday, March 1 and Wednesday March 3 and Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6, to encourage the region’s residents to drink within the recommended limits and reduce their chances of getting alcohol-related diseases. They will also be at Middlesbrough Asda on March 8 and The Mall in Middlesbrough on March 11 and 12. The teams will be on hand between 10am and 4.30pm.

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 newspaper adverts, radio advertising and a news paper insert which will reach 400,000 homes across the North East.

The YouGov survey of more than 2,000 adults found that, nationally, 83% of those who regularly drink more than the recommended limits don’t think their drinking is putting their long-term health at risk.

With 10 million adults in England estimated to be drinking above the recommended limits, this is equivalent to around 8.3 million people potentially unaware of the damage their drinking could be causing.

Although 90% of North East drinkers surveyed knew that drinking alcohol is related to liver disease, far fewer realised it is also linked with breast cancer (11%), throat cancer (33%), mouth cancer (26%), stroke (42%) and heart disease (64%), along with other serious conditions.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “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, while alcohol specific hospital admissions are up to 62% higher than the national average.”

He said that key to reducing the health risks was drinking within the recommended safe daily and weekly 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.”

Anyone interested in finding out how much they, or a family or friend, are drinking should visit www.balancenortheast.co.uk/drinks-calculator