If you think it’s only alcoholics and binge drinkers who are putting their health at risk, think again. Most people who have alcohol-related health problems aren’t alcoholics. They're simply people who have regularly drunk more than the recommended levels for some years.
NHS guidelines state Men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day and women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day. 'Regularly' means drinking this amount every day or most days of the week.
Many of those who see themselves as 'social drinkers' are actually at risk of developing long-term health conditions because of the amount they drink on a regular basis.
Most drinkers are unaware that regularly drinking more than is advised by the NHS can lead to a wide range of long-term health problems, including cancers, strokes and heart attacks.
More than 55% of people questioned in a YouGov poll thought that alcohol only damaged your health if you regularly get drunk or binge drink. The 2010 survey of 2,000 adults also found that 83% believed that regularly drinking more than is advised by the NHS didn’t put their long-term health at risk. The survey suggests there are possibly 7.5 million people who are unaware of the damage that their drinking could be causing.
For a woman, simply having a large glass (250ml) of 12% wine (3 units) every day, or a man drinking two pints of 4% lager (4.6 units), can push you above the recommended limits.
Men who regularly drink more than 2 pints of strong (5.2%) lager, which is more than 6 units, every day:
- are more than three times more likely to get mouth cancer
- could be three times more likely to have a stroke
Women who regularly drink two large glasses of 13% wine (6.5 units) or more a day:
- are twice as likely to have high blood pressure
- are 50% more likely to get breast cancer
Track Your Drinking
To find out if you need to cut down, take the Drinking self-assessment. It’ll help you assess the effects of your drinking. If it suggests that you’re drinking too much, you’ll get advice on how to cut down.
Keep tabs on your drinking with the Alcohol Tracker. The application calculates the units of alcohol in your drinks, and it helps you work out whether you need to cut down.
Because drinks come in all shapes and sizes, it can be hard to keep track of your units. Use the Unit calculator to add them up and help you monitor your drinking levels.
If you think you’re drinking too much, there are many ways of making it easier to cut back. Check out Tips on cutting down.