Calls for more warnings on alcohol as men 'unaware' of impact on health

 Some 3.5 million men are thought to drink more 14 units per week, the amount recommended by government 

Rebecca Flood
Saturday 14 May 2016 13:07
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Experts are calling for new alcohol warnings after a report found some men are drinking more than double the recommended amount.

Drinkaware, an alcohol-industry funded charity, published the worrying findings and suggested more needs to be done to educate people on the dangers of drink.

New guidelines issued in January lowered the recommended weekly units for men from 21 to 14, the same as women.

But some 3.5 million men are still thought to exceed 14 units per week, roughly equating to six pints of four per cent, Drinkaware found.

Drinking above that level is thought to contribute to alcohol-related liver disease and cancer.

Worryingly, the study found on average men aged between 45 and 64 were drinking 37 units per week.

And some 800,000 were downing 50 units or more per week - equivalent to 21 pints - an amount known to significantly endanger health.

They concluded that men are not fully aware of how much they are endangering their health, and need more reminders.

Elaine Hindal, chief executive at Drinkaware, said: “For a large number of middle-aged men, drinking is part of their daily routine and often goes unnoticed.

“As there are often no immediate negative consequences to their drinking, they are unaware of how their drinking may be impacting on their health.”

The research found more than half – 53 per cent - of middle-aged men excessively drinking did not think it would negatively impact their health, even if they continued.

Conducted in November but only published this week, the findings also showed nearly half, 49 per cent, thought moderate amounts of alcohol were good for your health.

Other problems associated with drinking were published in a study by Cancer Research UK.

Out of 2,303 adults, middle-aged men were more likely to use alcohol as “a crutch”.

Almost a third, 29 per cent, felt that despite drinking more than the recommended amount they could not stop themselves.

Some 27 per cent felt remorse or guilt after drinking, and 32 per cent could not fully remember all the night’s events.

Government figures show men in this age group are more likely to be admitted to hospital with an alcohol-related disease.

The Alcohol Health Alliance, an umbrella organisation, said people need to be reminded of the dangers associated with excessive drinking.

Prof Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alliance, said: “These figures are concerning, and demonstrate the need for clear and legible health warnings on labels of alcoholic products, which inform the public of the impact of alcohol on health, and of the chief medical officers’ new alcohol consumption guidelines.”

“Awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer, for example, is particularly low."

They recommended the 14 units be spread evenly throughout the week.

Prof Gilmore added: “Whilst there is no level of alcohol consumption which can be considered entirely ‘safe’ from risk, drinking within this guideline would likely mean a dramatic improvement in health for many of the men identified in this study.”

The effects of drinking are thought to cost the NHS £3.5 billion a year.

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