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Regular but moderate alcohol can trigger irregular and immoderate health

If you routinely enjoy a drink or two — even if you don’t consider your intake excessive — could it be putting you at greater risk of developing serious health problems like cancer? CADAS volunteer Steve Russell looks at the latest findings.

Pretty well everyone understands that smoking causes cancer yet only a third of us seem to understand that alcohol can too, according to a new regional survey.

The same survey also indicates that 40% of adults in the North East — that’s  855,000 people — routinely drink more than the Chief Medical Officers’ low-risk guidelines of no more than 14 units per week.

Doctors say this is worrying because research has proved that it’s not just heavy drinkers who are increasing their risk of cancer. Even small amounts of alcohol, drunk regularly, can increase the risk.

And it doesn’t matter what your favourite tipple is. The fact is that alcohol,  whether beer, wine or spirits, can trigger at least seven cancers:

  • mouth,
  • throat,
  • voice box,
  • breast,
  • oesophagus,
  • liver,
  • Bowel

Regular drinking, even if moderate, can also damage your liver in other ways and raise your risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Furthermore, it can often lead to weight gain, and render you more susceptible to anxiety and depression.

What do you think your body would say about all this risk, if only you could ask it?

Almost certainly that the surest way to reduce your risk of all these problems and stay healthy is simply to cut down.

If you’d appreciate a bit of help to do so, your body might also recommend that you visit where you can try the alcohol units quiz, and download the free Try Dry app to track your units, calories and even the money you save when you cut down or cut out alcohol.

“All too often we just don’t think about alcohol when it comes to protecting our health,” says Leigh Williams, Chief Executive Officer of CADAS.

“We are encouraging people in Cumbria to rethink their attitude towards alcohol and to consider ways to cut down.

“It is worrying that 2020 saw more people drinking at risky levels which over time will increase people’s chance of developing cancers such as breast and bowel cancer, heart disease and stroke, as well as potentially adding to anxiety and depression.

“Cutting down on alcohol consumption and taking a few days off a week from alcohol can be a really good way to reduce your risk.”

What does the alcohol units guidance say?

  • The Chief Medical Officer’s guidance is that men and women alike are safest if they stick to no more than 14 units per week.
  • One very effective way to cut your alcohol consumption is to have several drink-free days each week.

14 units of alcohol is equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or six medium glasses of wine. Do remember though that just one pint of strong lager or a large glass of wine can contain more than three units of alcohol.

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