Source: The Guardian
Experts are calling for health warnings on all alcoholic drinks after data showed millions of middle-aged men drink above government guidelines and do not believe it does them any harm.
Findings from the alcohol industry-funded charity Drinkaware suggest that efforts are needed to persuade men they are putting their health in danger. Some 3.5 million men drink more than 14 units a week – the level that guidance from the UK’s chief medical officers suggests will keep their risk of alcohol-related liver disease and cancer low.
The new guidance was published in January. It lowered the limit for men from 21 units a week to 14, the same as women. Drinkaware’s research, carried out last November but only published now, shows that middle-aged men were exceeding the old guidance, too. On average, it found that men aged 45 to 64 were drinking 37 units a week.
Many are drinking at a level known to harm health – 800,000 were consuming 50 units or more a week, the equivalent of 21 pints. The new guidance of 14 units is the equivalent of six pints of 4% beer. Government statistics have shown that people in this age group are the most likely to be admitted to hospital with alcohol-related disease.
Drinkaware says that many middle-aged men simply do not believe their health is at risk. “More than half (53%) of middle-aged men drinking above the low-risk guidelines do not believe they will incur increased health problems if they continue drinking at their current level, with almost half (49%) of these drinkers also believing moderate drinking is good for your health,” says the organisation.
The Alcohol Health Alliance, an umbrella organisation for a number of health charities and experts, says people need to be reminded they are courting cancer and other risks as they pour out the wine or drink a bottle of beer.
“These figures are concerning, and demonstrate the need for clear and legible health warnings on labels of alcoholic products, which inform the public of the impact of alcohol on health, and of the chief medical officers’ new alcohol consumption guidelines,” said Prof Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alliance.
“The public have the right to know what impact alcohol has on health, so that they are able to make informed choices about the amount of alcohol they consume.
“Awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer, for example, is particularly low. Recent research carried out by Cancer Research UK found that only around 1 in 10 people is aware of the link between alcohol and cancer. As the chief medical officers explain in their new guidelines, any amount of alcohol increases the risk of developing cancer, along with over 60 other illnesses.