Drinkers urged to take more days off the booze

Alcohol increases the risk of seven types of cancer.
Alcohol increases the risk of seven types of cancer.

With Dry January over, drinkers in the region are being encouraged to take more days off the booze.

The call comes after a survey from Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, found that six out of 10 people who responded admitted feeling tempted to pour themselves a drink most nights.

Balance is backing a new campaign from Public Health England encouraging people to take at least two or three 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.

The results of the online survey revealed:

60 per cent (5,566 respondents) said they find themselves tempted to pour a drink most nights.

44 per cent (3,714 respondents) admitted that a friend or family member has suggested they might be drinking too much.

48 per cent (4,213 respondents) admitted their behaviour changes after a drink.

71 per cent (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 two or three 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 three days or more. A good way to reduce weekly alcohol intake is to have several drink-free days each week.

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.

Fourteen units of alcohol is equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or 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.

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