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Cumbrians are being warned that they are at risk from serious illness including heart disease, stroke and cancer if they drink just a little bit more than they should.
Every year around 94 people die of alcohol related conditions in Cumbria, but the effects can begin the minute you start drinking above the recommended levels.
A new nationwide Change4Life campaign has been launched this week to expose that drinking slightly over the lower-risk alcohol guidelines can seriously impact long term health.
The campaign includes a hard hitting TV advert which highlights that regularly drinking around two large glasses of wine or two strong pints of beer a day triple the risk of developing mouth cancer and double the risk of developing high blood pressure.
A new survey has revealed that most people in Cumbria are unaware of the serious illnesses caused by drinking more than the NHS recommends .
The survey carried out by YouGov Plc reveals 85 per cent of people questioned did not realise drinking just over the recommended units of alcohol increases the risk of developing breast cancer and 66 per cent were unaware of the risk of bowel cancer.
Department of Health Guidance states that men should not regularly exceed three to four units a day and women two to three units. One unit is approximately half a pint of normal strength lager, a small glass of wine (125ml) or a 25ml spirit measure.
People who regularly drink over these limits or who drink excessively in one sitting, regardless of age will experience short term health effects and place themselves at risk of developing longer term health problems also.
As well as increasing the chances of pancreatitis, mouth, throat and neck cancer and risk of high blood pressure, drinking more than the recommended units of alcohol also reduces fertility.
A new online calculator will be available on the Change4Life website to help people check how much they are drinking and work out whether they need to cut down. Two million leaflets will also be available for Change4Life supporters and health professionals around the country.
The campaign also offers handy hints and tips on how people can cut down – such as having booze free days, not drinking at home before people go out, swapping to low-alcohol or alcohol free drinks and simply using smaller glasses.
Dr Rebecca Wagstaff is NHS Cumbria’s Deputy Director of Public Health. She said: "Most adults drink alcohol and there has been lots of information about the real damage it can do especially to people who consistently drink hazardous amounts over years. However, a lot of information concerns binge drinking but this survey reveals many of us aren't fully aware of the damage alcohol can do if we have just a little over the recommended units.
"It's important that if people are drinking, they take this into account and try to stick within sensible levels.
“And if adults take sensible decisions around alcohol consumption then children will also learn by example and hopefully be aware of the risks when they come to making decisions around alcohol."
Secretary of State, Andrew Lansley said: “It’s crucial we support people across Cumbria 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.
“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.
“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.”