North East drinkers’ health timebomb

A campaign poster
A campaign poster
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ALMOST half of all drinkers in the North East are putting themselves at greater risk of cancers, heart attacks and strokes because of too much boozing, according to a new report.

Research released today, which coincides with the launch of a new Echo men’s health campaign, reveals that two in five people in the region are drinking at or above the Government’s recommended limits on a daily or almost-daily basis, which medical experts fear could be storing up future health problems.

The limits are two to three units a day, or about two small glasses of wine, for a woman and three to four units, or about two pints of regular strength beer or lager, for a man.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “We know the majority of people across the region understand that drinking alcohol is linked to health conditions such as liver and heart disease.

“However, they may not appreciate that most people who suffer from health problems because of their drinking are not alcoholics or binge drinkers but those who drink every day, or almost every day, over a number of years.

“Many suffer few immediate consequences, but over time it takes its toll. In the North East, too many of us are drinking more than we should on a regular basis. At the same time, rates of death from alcohol-related liver disease are increasing and alcohol specific hospital admissions are higher than the national average.”

Poor awareness of the recommended limits are a major contributor to this situation.

Mr Shevills said: “Too many people are unaware of what the recommended limits are. For instance, a third of North Easterners believe that it’s acceptable for a woman to drink two glasses of wine five nights a week, when in fact, over time this kind of consumption would place someone at a higher risk of a range of cancers, stroke or heart attack.”

Today, Balance launches its Drinking Causes Damage You Can’t See campaign to raise public awareness of these recommended limits.

The campaign will also highlight the conditions linked to drinking at or above these limits on a daily or almost-daily basis, which include high blood pressure, stroke and cancer of the mouth, throat and breast.

Nonnie Crawford, health champion for Safer Sunderland Partnership, said: “People seldom want advice about their drinking but helping with the right kind of information can encourage them to enjoy alcohol in a safer way.”

The campaign, which runs until February 28, encourages people to call 261 3803 or visit www.balancenortheast.co.uk/harm to find out more, download a drinks diary and recieve an information booklet.

Balance teams will be visiting towns and cities across the region, including in Sunderland during February.

North Easterners will come face to face with a life-sized x-ray of a human body and be shown the places where alcohol-related diseases such as strokes and cancer could strike.