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alcohol health alliance uk

Done Dry January? Take more days off in February

One You Days Off App

One You Days Off app

Posted 05/02/18

Drinkers in the North East are being encouraged to take more days off the booze as a worrying survey found 6/10 people who responded admitting to feeling tempted to pour a drink most nights.

Balance is backing a new campaign from Public Health England encouraging people to take at least 2 or 3 days off drinking every week as a way of cutting down to 14 units or under and reducing the risks of an alcohol related disease.

People are being encouraged to visit the website to download the One You Days Off app to help them cut down, feel healthier, lose weight and save money.

The results of an online survey by Balance revealed that:
• 60% (5,566 respondents) said they find themselves tempted to pour a drink most nights.
• 44% (3,714 respondents) admitted that a friend or family member has suggested they might be drinking too much.
• 48% (4,213 respondents) admitted their behaviour changes after a drink.
• 71% (5,958 respondents) admitted they find that one drink just isn’t enough.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “Clearly many people are conscious of the relationship they have with alcohol, from finding drinking is becoming a daily habit and their behaviour changing after a few drinks, to friends or loved ones voicing concern.

“Having a drink or two most evenings increases anyone’s risk of exceeding the weekly low risk guidelines and that increases the risk of some types of cancer and other health problems. Taking more days off is a good way to cut down and break that daily habit.

“For anyone who has ever done Dry January and felt a lot better, having more alcohol free days is a good way to keep those good intentions going.”

Bev Oliver, Health and Wellbeing Programme Lead at Public Health England North East, said: “It can be easy to fall into the habit of drinking regularly and the occasional glass in the evening can quickly become 2 or 3 glasses most days. The more you drink, and the more often, the greater the risk to your health but there are easy ways to cut back.

“It is important to know how much you are drinking. Taking at least two or three days off a week can help reduce the health risks, as well as helping you save money, lose weight and sleep better without cutting it out completely.”

The Chief Medical Officers’ guideline for both men and women is that people are safest not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week, to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level. For people drinking 14 units per week, it is best to spread this evenly over 3 days or more. A good way to reduce weekly alcohol intake is to have several drink-free days each week.

Alice Wiseman Director of Public Health, Gateshead and the North East’s DPH alcohol lead, said: “The more you cut down on alcohol, the more you could cut your risk of cancer, and improve your physical and mental health. Drinking less can also help you avoid hangovers, save money and sleep better. So it's always worth reducing the amount you drink.

“Taking more days off is a great way to cut down and reduce your risks, especially for anyone who has taken time off alcohol, maybe through challenges like Dry January, and would like to keep those good intentions going.”

Balance is also re-launching its Can’t See It campaign highlighting that alcohol increases the risk of seven types of cancer as a clear reason to reduce weekly unit levels.

Data shows enough alcohol is being sold in the North East for drinkers to consume 22.3 units per week on average compared to the Chief Medical Officer’s guidance of no more than 14 units.

GP Dr John Green said: “Taking some days off from drinking alcohol can have real positive effects on our health and wellbeing. Taking at least 2 or 3 days off drinking every week as a way of cutting down to the recommended 14 units or under can reduce the risks of an alcohol related disease including at least seven different types of cancer.”

Katie Gardiner, Payroll Administrator at Newcastle-based Chartered Accountants Tait Walker, is determined to take more days off after successfully completing Dry January two years in a row.

Katie, 28, from East Denton, said: “The benefits of doing Dry January were amazing again – I slept better, had more energy, my skin improved and I lost weight. Overall I felt great and found it much easier this time. I could have quite easily carried on and that’s why I’ve decided to download the Days Off app and track my drinking on an ongoing basis.

“I think people do worry about socialising without alcohol, but I still manage to go out and enjoy myself. In January I went out for afternoon tea with the girls from work and we were offered free glasses of Prosecco, but we turned it down and still had a lovely time.

“The idea of taking days off and reducing the amount I drink has made me realise you don’t have to have alcohol to have a good time. I’ve discovered how much alcohol can impact on your everyday health and wellbeing and I’m looking forward to continuing my healthier outlook. Since cutting back on alcohol, I have really enjoyed discovering non-alcoholic alternatives, such as alcohol-free beer.”

What is 14 units and why do the guidelines suggest no more than 14 units?

Fourteen units of alcohol is equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or 6 six medium glasses of wine. However - just one pint of strong lager or a large glass of wine can contain more than three units of alcohol.

The risk of developing a range of illnesses (including, for example, cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases with any amount you drink on a regular basis. There is now a better understanding of the link between drinking and some illnesses, including a range of cancers.

The previously held position that some level of alcohol was good for the heart has also been revised - the new guidance states the benefits for heart health of drinking alcohol are less and apply to a smaller group of the population than previously thought.