Drinking’s hidden dangers

Colin Shevills
Colin Shevills

THOUSANDS of North East people are storing up health problems by boozing above recommended limits.

Experts at the region’s alcohol awareness group Balance have just completed a month-long battle to highlight drinking levels.

It included a a day-long visit to the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre in Hartlepool to show shoppers the dangers of going above the recommended guidelines.

Officials say most people know that drinking to excess causes liver and heart disease.

But Balance director Colin Shevills said: “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.

“We launched this campaign to help people understand the recommended limits and the risks of pushing these limits on a daily or almost daily basis. It is our hope that people will use this information to re-think their consumption if necessary. I’m encouraged to see that it has reached so many people across the region.”

Shoppers at Middleton Grange came face-to-face with a life sized X-ray of a human body. They were shown the places where alcohol-related diseases such as strokes, heart attacks, dementia, as well as mouth, throat and liver cancer could strike.

To highlight how easy it is to reach and exceed the recommended limits, shoppers were also invited to pour the size of drink they enjoy at home and discuss how many of these they might drink in one sitting and how often.

Members of the Balance team measured these drinks to see how many units of alcohol they contained.

The teams also handed out almost 10,000 information booklets and more than 5,000 people took away a units measure which they can use at home to ensure they are drinking within the recommended limits.

Balance research has revealed that two in five North-Easterners are drinking at or above the Government’s recommended limits on a daily or almost daily basis. This could be storing up future health problems.

Scientific evidence suggests that men who regular drink more than the recommended limits could be four times more likely to have high blood pressure.

Women who regularly drink more than the recommended limits could be three times more likely to suffer a stroke.

Men and women who exceed these limits could be up to five times more likely to develop cancers of the mouth and throat.

Anyone wanting more details on safe drinking levels should visit www.balancenortheast.co.uk/harm or call (0191) 2613803 to request a free information booklet.