The dangers of alcohol and the risk of alcohol addiction were highlighted in January 2016, at which time England’s chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, told the public that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption in terms of preventing certain illnesses such as cancer.
This is in contrast to previous guidelines that said moderate drinking was effectively safe, and in some instances, beneficial to health. Campaigners are now calling for alcohol products such as beer cans and wine bottles to carry mandatory warnings in the same way that cigarette packages do.
New Alcohol Guidelines
The new alcohol guidelines were published at the start of the year, and they saw a reduction to the previous guidelines for men. Men and women are now advised to drink no more than fourteen units of alcohol a week, spread over a number of days. They are also advised to have some alcohol-free days every week.
However, many people are still regularly drinking well above the recommended guidelines, and some are even drinking their full week’s quota in one drinking session. Experts say this is very dangerous in terms of health problems and the risk of alcohol addiction.
Advice from Health Experts
The new guidelines were introduced after a review by Public Health England, which was commissioned by the UK Government. While health campaigners were delighted with the reduced guidelines for men, many believe that the Government needs to take further action and place warning labels on alcohol products.
Alcohol Concern’s chief executive Joanna Simons said, “These evidence-based guidelines were put together based on recommendations from a group of independent doctors, after looking at 20 years’ worth of evidence. They represent the maximum amount we can drink each week with little risk to our health.”
She added that alcohol has a direct link to more than sixty medical problems including high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, and she said that those who regularly drink more than the recommended amount of alcohol are increasing their risk of developing these illnesses.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Simons added, “We know that nine out of 10 people don’t know about the link between drinking and cancer and so we are calling for mandatory health warnings on alcohol products, as is standard practice in other countries.”
Excessive alcohol consumption not only increases the risk of health problems but it also increases the risk of alcohol addiction. The more alcohol a person drinks, the more chance he or she will build up a tolerance to the effects of the substance.
That means that it will take more alcohol each time for the individual to achieve the desired effect. As the person continues to up his or her alcohol intake, the body will soon become dependent on it until it gets to the stage where he or she begins to crave it and has no control over his/her consumption. Those who have developed an alcohol addiction will continue to drink, even though they know that to do so will cause negative consequences.
Negative Effects of Alcohol
As part of the group that came together to advise on the new alcohol guidelines, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore said, “The latest evidence demonstrates that the risk associated with cancer increases with any amount of alcohol consumed, so there is no level of drinking which can be considered safe. To ensure the public has faith in these new guidelines, it is essential that the harms associated with alcohol are communicated clearly to healthcare professionals and consumers. This should be done via mandatory labelling of alcoholic products, and mass media campaigns developed by Public Health England.”
What may concern moderate drinkers is the fact that experts are now warning there is a risk of alcohol-related cancers even in those who stick within the recommended weekly guidelines. Although the report by PHE said that the risk was low, it also stressed that there is no completely safe level of alcohol consumption in terms of preventing illnesses such as cancer. The only way to eliminate the risk is to abstain from alcohol completely.
Unsurprisingly, those who make a living from alcohol are unimpressed with the new guidelines and the fact that the public is being warned of ‘no safe levels’ of alcohol consumption. Chief executive of the alcohol industry body Portman Group, Henry Ashworth, said, “Although the CMOs have provided much-needed clarity that responsible drinking carries a level of risk no greater than other day-to-day activities, it is regrettable that the guidelines still include a reference to the Guidelines Development Group’s view that there is no safe level of drinking.”
It is highly likely that campaigners will face fierce opposition should they attempt to press the Government to go ahead with mandatory warnings on alcohol products. Nevertheless, those who are worried about alcohol-related health problems or alcohol addiction can reduce their risk by drinking less than the weekly guideline amounts or giving up alcohol altogether.
Source: Call for mandatory health warnings on alcohol products (Aol.)