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Balance North East launches 7 cancers campaign

Almost one million North Easterners are ignoring Government health guidelines and drinking at levels which are putting them at greater risk of seven types of cancer, says leading alcohol charity Balance North East.

Almost 2 in 5 of the region’s adults, around 813,000 people , are regularly drinking more than the recommended daily limits. These are 2-3 units for a woman – no more than a standard 175ml glass of wine – or 3-4 units for a man, which is a pint of strong lager.

Evidence shows that if you regularly drink above the guidelines the risk of developing cancer is higher than non-drinkers.

  • Men are 1.8 to 2.5 times as likely to get cancer of the mouth, neck and throat, and women are 1.2 to 1.7 times as likely
  • Women are 1.2 times as likely to get breast cancer
  • Men are twice as likely to develop liver cirrhosis, and women are 1.7 times as likely
  • Bowel cancer risk is 21% higher in people who drink around 1.5 to 6 units per day
  • However, more than 9 in 10 people in the region who regularly drink above the recommended limits believe they are light or moderate drinkers.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “It’s important for people to realise that it’s not just heavy drinkers at risk, there is no safe level of alcohol and the more a person drinks, the greater the risk."

“For many of us, the idea that alcohol can cause cancer is hard to accept. This comes as no surprise as low alcohol pricing, widespread availability and mass promotion has suggested alcohol is harmless. But it’s not.”

These concerning statistics have led Balance to launch a campaign to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and seven cancers including mouth, pharyngeal (upper throat), oesophageal (food pipe), laryngeal (voice box), bowel cancer, breast and liver.

The campaign will see a new hard-hitting advert aired on television screens from today (Monday 22nd June) over a four-week period. The advert features a woman enjoying lunch and a glass of wine with her partner when she spills some of her drink on her top. The stain changes to show a growing tumour on her breast. You can view the film here – www.reducemyrisk.tv

Colin added: “It’s worrying to learn that so many people in the region are drinking above the recommended limits. This is even more of a concern when you consider the fact that a large majority of high or increasing risk drinkers believe they actually drink at moderate levels.

“It’s easy for us underestimate how much we drink but by raising awareness of the hidden harms associated with alcohol we hope encourage people to think about their intake and, if necessary, cut back to help reduce their risk of cancer.”

For more information about Balance’s alcohol and seven cancers campaign alongside the TV advert (below), visit reducemyrisk.tv