Many of us try to reset our relationship with alcohol in the New Year. Perhaps you have already taken part in Dry January which is a great initiative. Well done if you made it through the month without drinking any booze!
As we now enter February, a campaign has launched highlighting the links between excessive alcohol consumption and seven forms of cancer. If you have already reduced the amount of alcohol you’re having, I would urge you to carry on throughout 2019!
A unit of alcohol is 10ml of pure alcohol, which is about half a pint of normal-strength lager or a single measure (25ml) of spirits. A small glass of wine contains about 1.5 units of alcohol.
In order to keep your risk of alcohol-related harm low, I would recommend not regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week. If you do drink as much as 14 units, spread it out evenly over three or more days.
The seven different forms of cancer linked to alcohol misuse are mouth, pharyngeal, oesophageal, laryngeal, breast, bowel and liver cancer.
Causes for concern include regularly exceeding the weekly 14-unit limit for alcohol, being unable to remember what happened the night before because of drinking and missing an appointment or work due to being drunk or hungover.
As well as causing serious health problems, long-term alcohol misuse can lead to social problems, such as unemployment, divorce, domestic abuse and homelessness.
If you’re worried about your or someone else’s alcohol consumption, there is plenty of help on offer. A good first step would be to visit a GP, who will be able to discuss the services and treatments available.
As well as the NHS, there are a number of charities and support groups across the UK that provide support and advice for people struggling with an alcohol problem. Alcoholics Anonymous and Drinkaware are two of many contacts who would be willing to offer expert help.
How alcohol misuse is treated depends on how much alcohol a person is drinking. Options include counselling, medication and detoxification. Your GP will be happy to talk through these in further detail.
Don’t be afraid to take action today and greatly reduce your risk of developing seven different forms of cancer. It is never too late!