Fears over latest drinking figures

Colin Shevills, director ofBalance.
Colin Shevills, director ofBalance.

New figures suggest nearly half a million adults in the north east are drinking enough alcohol to increase the health risks.

The figures, released by Balance, show that the majority are under-estimating their intake and most are not aware of alcohol guidelines.

The research, part of the relaunch of the Balance Can’t See It campaign, shows that it is not young people who are most likely to be drinking above the ‘low risk’ guideline of 14 units per week, but adults aged 45 to 54.

Figures show that 26 per cent of drinkers are exceeding the Chief Medical Officer guidelines of no more than 14 units per week, while the heaviest drinking is seen among people aged 45 to 54, with 30 per cent of drinkers in that age group exceeding the weekly guidelines.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “Despite the region having the highest rate of Dry January sign ups, it’s worrying so many people are drinking above the guidelines, putting them at greater risk of cancer and other health conditions. Our figures suggest most people drinking above the recommended limits aren’t aware of these guidelines and are underestimating how much they drink and the potential health risks.”

Dr Tony Branson, medical director for the Northern Cancer Alliance, said: “Just like tobacco, alcohol is a cause of cancers of the bowel, mouth, throat and oesophagus. It is very easy for the units to mount up.

“There is no ‘safe’ limit, but reducing how much you drink can help to reduce the risk.

“It may be tempting to think that overdoing it on a few bottles of wine every week doesn’t carry the same health risks, but the fact is that all alcohol carries the same health risks and there are no safe limits.

“Alcohol is in the same cancer-causing category as tobacco and asbestos. It affects our bodies in a number of ways, which can increase the risks of developing at least seven different types of cancer.”