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Drinking 'slightly' over the limit raises risk of 'serious illnesses'

Drinking “a little more than people should” puts them at risk of developing serious illnesses including heart disease, stroke and cancer.

A newly-launched government TV campaign is expected to expose the long-term health risks associated with drinking “slightly” over the lower-risk alcohol guidelines.

Consuming around two large glasses of wine or two strong pints of beer a day doubles the risk of high blood pressure and triples the risk of developing mouth cancer, it will be warned.

Survey results, released by the government, show 85% of the 2,100 people polled did not know drinking too much increases the risk of developing breast cancer.

Furthermore, 66% of those questioned did not know that exceeding the alcohol daily limit increases the risk of bowel cancer, 30% did not know it raises the risk of high blood pressure and 37% were unaware it causes fertility problems.

“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,” said Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

“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.

“That is why I am launching this campaign, to alert people that it is not just binge drinkers that damage their health.  There are simple ways we can all cut down how much alcohol we drink if we need to.”

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, estimates 10 million British people drink more than the recommended limit for alcohol.

This means one in five of the population face increased risks of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and weight gain.

An online calculator will be made available on the Change4Life website, allowing people to check how much they are drinking and work out whether they need to cut down.

Question: Will you be referring your patients to use the Change4Life alcohol unit calculator? Do you think the campaign will make a difference?