A new U.K government campaign to discourage excessive consumption of alchohol says drinking two large glasses of wine or two strong pints of beer a day triples the risk of developing mouth cancer.
According to the campaign, the increased risk of mouth cancer can be averted by keeping within the limits of medical recommendations.
BBC reports that the TV advertising campaign says that drinking "just a little more than they should" puts people at risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke and that people should "not regularly exceed" the medically recommended daily limits.
The adverts, according to Huffington Post, are run under the Change4Life banner. Daily Mail says it will show people how to use a new online calculator to work out how much alcohol they are consuming.
According to NHS recommendations, men should not regularly drink more than three or four units a day, while women should not regularly drink more than two or three.
Daily Mail reports the government campaign plans to produce two million leaflets to spread the word. According to BBC, the campaign has a website on which drinkers are offered tips on how to lower their daily alcohol consumption. The advise includes having alcohol free days, avoiding drinking before going out and changing to low alcohol content or alcohol-free alternatives. Drinkers are also advised to use smaller glasses.
According to BBC, the campaign strategy is based on results of a survey involving about 2000 people. The survey found that 63 percent were not aware that excessive drinking increased risk of pancreatitis, 59 percent did not know that excessive consumption of alcohol increased risk of developing mouth, throat and neck cancer; 85 percent did not know that drinking beyond medical limits increases risk of breast cancer; 65 percent were unaware that alcohol increases risk of bowel cancer; 30 percent did not know that it increased risk of high blood pressure, and 37 percent did not know it adversely affects fertility.
Photo by Corie Howell
Information on health risks of alcohol consumption crucial to public health
British Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, said: "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. 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."
The Health secretary said further: "Change4Life is a fantastic, well-known campaign that has already helped a million families around the country. I want to expand it beyond eating well and moving more, so people look after themselves and really do live longer."
According to BBC, Sarah Lyness, executive director of policy and information at Cancer Research U.K., confirmed that alcohol does increase the risk of several types of cancer. She said: "Alcohol can increase the risk of seven types of cancer, including two of the commonest kinds - breast and bowel cancers. And a recent study showed that nearly 12,500 cancers in the UK each year are caused by alcohol.The risk of cancer starts to go up even at quite low levels of drinking, but the more people cut back on alcohol, the more they can reduce the risk."
Chief Medical Officer of England, Professor Dame Sally Davis, said: "Drinking too much is a major public health issue. This campaign highlights how easy it can be to use a glass of wine or beer to unwind at the end of a busy day but these drinks stack up and can increase your risk of high blood pressure, cancer or liver disease."
Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "An estimated 10 million Britons drink more than the recommended limits for alcohol, which puts one in five of us at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and weight gain.There's absolutely no reason why we can't all enjoy our favourite tipple in moderation, but don't underestimate the health risks when one glass becomes two or three on a regular basis."
Health organizations protest
The government has cut a deal with alcohol producers and distributors to support the campaign. According to Daily Mail, alcoholic beverages producers, wholesalers and retailers such as Carlsberg, Majestic Wine and Diageo have pledged to provide clear unit labelling, support the campaign and promote responsible drinking.
The move has been opposed by six major health organizations in the U.K. The health organizations include Alcohol Concern, the British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal College of Physicians, the British Association for the Study of the Liver, the British Liver Trust and the Institute of Alcohol studies. The organizations complain that the government is allowing alcoholic drinks manufacturers wholesalers and retailers to control implementation of health policy.
David Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said the deal was "the worst possible deal for everyone who wants to see alcohol harm reduced," because it provides no sanctions if the industry failed to fulfill its pledges. Emily Robinson, Alcohol Concerns director of Campaign, said: "It's great to see the Government tackling the problem of alcohol and investing in a campaign to warn people of the dangers of drinking too much. But telling people they could be drinking too much can't be our only solution to the country's alcohol problem. We also need to see minimum alcohol pricing brought in as soon as possible, as well as making sure high quality services are available for people who may have developed a serious alcohol problem."