Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of developing certain cancers, including mouth, pharyngeal (upper throat), oesophageal, laryngeal (voice box), breast, bowel and liver. People who drink alcohol are more likely to develop cancer than those who don’t drink. However, sticking to the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of alcohol intake can help to reduce the risks as the more alcohol a person drinks the higher the risk of developing an alcohol-related cancer.
Recommended Daily Amount (RDA)
Both men and women are advised to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, this should be spread over 3 days or more with 2-3 alcohol free days per week.
(Units are a simple way indicating the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink. One unit is 10mls of pure alcohol, which is the amount the body can process in an hour.)
It can be hard to know how many units are in each drink with so many different sizes and types, using an online unit calculator can be useful to work out if your alcohol consumption is within the recommended limits.
e.g. A pint of beer is 2 units and both a 125ml glass of wine and a spirit measure is 1.5 units.
Alcohol & your health
If your alcohol consumption is regularly over the RDA this can have adverse health effects. Ten to 20 years of regularly drinking more than 14 units a week can increase the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat and breast, stroke, heart disease, liver disease, brain damage and damage to the nervous system as well as adverse mental health effects.
Drinking too much on a single occasion can also have health effects, it can increase your risk of accidents, misjudgements and the loss of self-control resulting in situations you otherwise may not find yourself in.
Weight gain is an often overlooked side effect of increased alcohol consumption. One 330ml bottle of alcopop contains 237kcal, which is the same as 100g of cookies, and these drinks can also be very high in sugar, e.g. a bottle of red wine can have more than 500kcals, rum and coke has over 200kcals or a pint of stout has over 200kcals.
How much alcohol do you drink each day or week?
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