Healthy living

Drinking 'a little more than you should' can triple the risk of mouth cancer

Drinking  a little more than you should  can triple the risk of mouth cancer Change4life warns of alcohol-related health problems

Regularly drinking two large glasses of wine or two strong pints of beer a day can triple the risk of developing mouth cancer and double the risk of high blood pressure, a new Government campaign warns.

The nationwide Change4Life campaign is warning that drinking slightly over the recommended guidelines for alcohol can increase the risk of serious illness including heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

The campaign is being launched in the wake of a survey of 2,000 people which found that 85 per cent did not realise that drinking a little more than they should increases the risk of developing breast cancer.

Some 63 per cent of those surveyed were not aware drinking can increase the risk of bowel cancer; 63 per cent did not realise it increases the chances of pancreatitis and 59 per cent did not realise it increases the risk of mouth, throat and neck cancer. Over a third of people questioned did not know that drinking over the recommended limit reduces fertility, while 30 per cent did not realise it increases the risk of high blood pressure.

The NHS recommends that men should not regularly drink more than three to four units of alcohol daily, while women should regularly drink no more than two to three units daily.

A new online calculator will be available on the Change4Life website to help people check how much they are drinking and work out whether they need to cut down.

The campaign will also offer handy hints and tips on how people can cut down on their drinking – such as having booze free days, not drinking at home before people go out, swapping to low-alcohol or alcohol free drinks and simply using smaller glasses.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "It's crucial we support people to know about how drinking too much poses risks to their health and how they can take control of their drinking.

“It can be easy to slip into the habit of having a few extra drinks each day, especially when drinking at home. But there can be serious health risks. Don’t let drinking sneak up on you."

Sarah Lyness, executive director of policy and information at Cancer Research UK, said: "Alcohol can increase the risk of seven types of cancer, including two of the commonest kinds – breast and bowel cancers. And a recent study showed that nearly 12,500 cancers in the UK each year are caused by alcohol.

“The risk of cancer starts to go up even at quite low levels of drinking, but the more people cut back on alcohol, the more they can reduce the risk. Small changes can really make a difference – so try swapping a glass of wine or beer for a soft drink or having a few alcohol-free days a week."

More information: Change4Life

This article was published on Mon 6 February 2012

Image © scarletus -

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