Alcohol causes cancer.pngIf you drink alcohol, how do your drinks add up? And are they putting your health at risk?

Most of us know that smoking causes cancer. But a worrying new survey shows only one in three people in the North East and Cumbria know that alcohol also causes cancer such as bowel, breast, mouth and throat cancer.

It is estimated that four in10 adults in the North East and Cumbria, or 855,000 people, are drinking above Chief Medical Officers’ low-risk guidelines of no more than 14 units per week, raising their risk.

It’s not just heavy drinkers who are affected. Even small amounts of alcohol, drunk regularly, can increase the risk of cancer. And any type of alcohol can cause cancer... whether it is wine, beer or spirits.

Drinking regularly can also damage the liver and raise our risk of heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension) and stroke. It can lead to us gaining weight and increase the risk of anxiety and depression.

The best way to reduce your risk is to cut down., try the alcohol units quiz, and download the free Try Dry app to track your units, calories and money saved when you cut down or cut out alcohol.

Paul Counter, North Cumbria’s Integrated Care’s Ear, Nose and Throat Consultant, said: “Too often we don’t think about alcohol when it comes to protecting our health.  We are encouraging people in Cumbria to rethink their attitude towards alcohol and to consider ways to cut down.

“It is worrying that 2020 saw more people drinking at risky levels which over time will increase people’s risk of developing cancers such as breast and bowel cancer, heart disease and stroke, as well as potentially adding to anxiety and depression. 

“Cutting down on alcohol consumption and taking a few days off a week from alcohol can be a really good way to reduce your risk.”

What is the guidance?

  • The Chief Medical Officer’s guidance is that men and women are safest not to drink more than 14 units per week. 
  • The guidance states that a good way to cut down on alcohol consumption is to have several drink-free days each week.
  • 14 units of alcohol is equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or six medium glasses of wine. However - just one pint of strong lager or a large glass of wine can contain more than three units of alcohol.