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NHS campaign reveals unseen alcohol damage

A new campaign backed by major health charities will warn drinkers of the unseen health damage caused by regularly drinking more than the NHS advises.

The £6m government-funded campaign shows the damage that is being done to drinkers' organs while they are drinking in a pub or at home.

This is being launched by Public Health Minister, Gillian Merron today and is part of the cross-government strategy to tackle the harms that alcohol causes.

The Department of Health has developed the campaign in association with Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and the Stroke Association to create the series of stark TV, press and outdoor adverts showing the harm that regularly drinking more than two drinks a day can cause.

A new YouGov poll launched to coincide with the campaign shows that more than half (55%) of English drinkers misguidedly believe that alcohol only damages your health if you regularly get drunk or binge drink.

The survey of over 2,000 adults also found that 83% of those who regularly drink more than the NHS recommended limits of 2-3 units a day for women (about two small glasses of wine) and 3-4 units a day for men (about two pints of lager) don't think their drinking is putting their long-term health at risk.

With 10m adults in England estimated to be drinking above the recommended limits, this is equivalent to around 8.3m people potentially unaware of the damage their drinking could be causing.

Although 86% of drinkers surveyed knew that drinking alcohol is related to liver disease, far fewer realised it is also linked with breast cancer (7%), throat cancer (25%), mouth cancer (28%), stroke (37%) and heart disease (56%), along with other serious conditions.

Public Health Minister, Gillian Merron said: “Many of us enjoy a drink - drinking sensibly isn't a problem. But, if you're regularly drinking more than the NHS recommended limits, you're more likely to get cancer, have a stroke or have a heart attack.

“With alcohol misuse damaging so many people's health and lives, the government has teamed up with Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and the Stroke Association to produce this straight talking campaign. It's important to show drinkers the unseen damage alcohol can do to their body.”

The campaign website, launches on Monday 1 February and will feature interactive tools to arm people with the information they need to make healthier choices.

Department of Health