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Brits unaware of alcohol risk

Friday January 29th, 2010

The British public wrongly thinks that only binge drinking and drunkenness is dangerous to health, experts said today.

More than eight million people are regular drinkers of alcohol without realising the threat to their health, it was claimed.

A new campaign was launched yesterday to raise awareness of the official safe drinking limits.

More than a quarter of the adult British population is said to drink above recommended limits. For the new campaign, some 2,000 people were surveyed. This showed that 83 per cent of those who admitted they drank more than safe levels did not think this was a health risk.

The survey found that not many people knew alcohol is linked to breast cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer and stroke.

And just 56 per cent knew heavy drinking could cause heart disease.

For women, safe drinking levels are two to three units a day, equivalent to two small glasses of wine. For men, it is three to four units, equivalent to two pints of lager.

Chief medical officer Professor Sir Liam Donaldson said: "It is important people realise the harm they, unknowingly, can cause to their health by regularly drinking more than the recommended daily limits. Over a quarter of the population regularly drink above the Government?s recommended daily limits."

The campaign also follows revelations about heavy drinking among school-aged children in some regions of Britain. The official statistics showed large numbers of children in the north-east drinking the equivalent of three bottles of wine a week.

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "While sensible drinking in moderation has been shown to offer some protection against heart disease, this should not be seen as a green light to start drinking.

"There are better ways to protect yourself from heart disease. The evidence is clear, regularly drinking above the recommended daily limits harms the heart as well as causing a host of other harmful effects."

Nursing leaders welcomed the campaign - but called for tougher measures.

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, called for a mandatory code to regulate advertising, labelling and sales.

He said: "Education is just part of the package needed to stop people damaging their health as a result of drinking too much. Longer term solutions are needed to change the nation's historically permissive attitude towards alcohol."

Tags: Cancer | Drug and Alcohol Abuse | Heart Health | UK News

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