Dying for a drink – half of South Tynesiders risking death by overindulging

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Shock figures have revealed that more than half of adults in South Tyneside’s are putting their lives at risk by drinking too much.

A staggering 51.5% of the borough’s adults, the highest in the region, are ignoring Government health guidelines and are drinking more than the recommended daily alcohol limit, according to new figures

These are two to three units for a woman – no more than a standard 175ml glass of wine – or three to four units for a man, which is a pint of strong lager.

The figures, which have been released by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, to tie in with its new campaign to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and seven cancers – including mouth, pharyngeal (upper throat), oesophageal (food pipe), laryngeal (voice box), bowel cancer, breast and liver.

A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “We are very concerned about the number of people who are drinking above the recommended levels.

“We are supporting Balance with its campaign and hope that people will think about the amount they are drinking and assess their risks.

“We have recently launched Change4Life South Tyneside, which is our new innovative model that helps to address behaviour change, and we are putting measures in place to help people understand the risks associated with drinking above the recommended limits.

“Training is being rolled out to staff to help them deliver brief advice to people who are unaware of the dangers associated with their drinking.

“The Change4Life South Tyneside website allows people to calculate their drinking levels and offers a range of information if they are concerned.”

Starting today, Balance will air a new hard-hitting advert on television screens over the next four weeks.

The advert features a woman enjoying lunch and a glass of wine with her partner when she spills some of her drink on her top. The stain changes to show a growing tumour on her breast.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “It’s important for people to realise that it’s not just heavy drinkers at risk, there is no safe level of alcohol and the more a person drinks, the greater the risk.

“For many of us, the idea that alcohol can cause cancer is hard to accept. This comes as no surprise as low alcohol pricing, widespread availability and mass promotion has suggested alcohol
is harmless. But it’s not.”

For more information on Change4Life, visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk

‘It’s too easy for us to underestimate how much we drink’

Evidence shows that if an adult regularly drinks above the guidelines the risk of developing cancer is higher than non-drinkers.

Men are 1.8 to 2.5 times as likely to get cancer of the mouth, neck and throat, and women are 1.2 to 1.7 times as likely.

Women are 1.2 times as likely to get breast cancer.

Men are twice as likely to develop liver cirrhosis, and women are 1.7 times as likely.

Bowel cancer risk is 21% higher in people who drink about 1.5 to 6 units per day.

However, more than nine in 10 people in the region who regularly drink above the recommended limits believe they are light or moderate drinkers.

Mr Shevills said: “It’s worrying to learn that so many people in the region are drinking above the recommended limits. This is even more of a concern when you consider the fact that a large majority of high or increasing risk drinkers believe they actually drink at moderate levels.

“It’s easy for us underestimate how much we drink, but by raising awareness of the hidden harms associated with alcohol, we hope to encourage people to think about their intake and, if necessary, cut back to help reduce their risk of cancer.”