People in South Tyneside are more likely to be drinking above recommended limits - putting themselves at greater risk of a range of different cancers including mouth, throat, oesophageal and bowel.
That is the warning from Balance as a hard-hitting new campaign launches urging people to take action to reduce their risk of seven types of cancer by taking more days off drinking for the sake of their health, family and loved ones.
Sales figures show 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.
That compares to the England and Wales average of 20.8 units sold per drinker.
Alcohol causes nearly a third (30%) of mouth and pharynx (throat) cancers, over a fifth (21%) of oesophageal cancers, over one in 10 (12%) bowel cancers, 9% of liver cancers, 25% of laryngeal cancers and 6% of breast cancers.
Most recent data shows that nearly a third (32%) of all new cancer cases registered in the North East – some 5,374 in 2015 – were made up of these cancer types.
Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “It is everyone’s right to know the fact that regular drinking, even one drink a day, increases your risk of some types of cancer, even if that might feel hard to accept.
“One of the problems is we have very low awareness of the risks. Many people think they are drinking moderately, but are actually in the higher risk category.
“Cutting down on alcohol consumption can reduce people’s risk. Taking a few days off a week from alcohol can really reduce your intake.”
Tom Hall, acting director of public health for South Tyneside Council, said: “We are encouraging people in South Tyneside who are concerned about their drinking to consider ways to cut down.
“Taking more days off is a really easy and practical way which can also mean feeling healthier, losing weight and saving money.
“As a nation we are drinking far too much. This not only stores up health problems for the future for families but means people are being diagnosed with alcohol related diseases at a younger age.
“Children want their parents to be around and be fit and healthy.”
The latest Chief Medical Officer’s drinking guidelines advise no more than 14 units per week to keep health risks low – that’s around six standard glasses of wine or six pints of beer or lager per week.
People are being encouraged to visit www.reducemyrisk.tv to participate in a short quiz about their drinking habits and download free advice on alcohol consumption.