Hartlepool drinkers raising their risks of an alcohol related cancer

Published Tuesday, 5th September 2017

HARTLEPOOL drinkers are more likely to be drinking above recommended limits, putting themselves at greater risk of a range of different cancers.

That is the warning from Balance after the launch of a hard hitting new campaign yesterday (4 Sept) urging people to reduce their risks by taking more days off for the sake of their health, family and loved ones.

Sales figures show enough alcohol is sold for North East drinkers to consume 22.3 units per week on average[i] compared to the Chief Medical Officer guidance to drink no more than 14 units. Consumption in the North East is higher than the England and Wales average of 20.8 units - putting people in the region at higher risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, breast, stomach and bowel.

7 cancers campaign

Alcohol causes nearly a third of mouth and throat cancers, over a fifth of oesophageal cancers and over one in ten bowel cancers. The North East also has higher rates of hospital admissions for alcohol related cancers compared to the national average:

  • Admission rates for bowel cancer are 75% higher in the North East, with a total of 1,993 admissions attributable to cancer in 2015/16.
  • Admission rates for mouth cancer are 26% higher, with 793 admissions attributable to cancer in 2015/16.
  • Admission rates for throat cancer are 37% higher, with 1,637 admissions attributable to cancer in 2015/16.

Interim Director of Public Health for Hartlepool Borough Council, Paul Edmondson-Jones said: "We are encouraging people in Hartlepool who are concerned about their drinking to consider ways to cut down. Taking more days off is a really easy and practical way which can also mean feeling healthier, losing weight and saving money.

"As a nation we are drinking far too much. This not only stores up health problems for the future for families but means people are being diagnosed with alcohol related diseases at a younger age. Children want their parents to be around and be fit and healthy when they grow up."

The latest Chief Medical Officer's drinking guidelines advise no more than 14 units per week to keep risks low – no more than six standard glasses of red wine or six pints of standard beer per week.

People are being encouraged to visit www.reducemyrisk.tv to participate in a short quiz about their drinking habits and download free tools like the Days Off app and Drinks Tracker.

A spokesperson from NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “The CCG welcomes this campaign as alcohol is a risk factor in over 60 medical conditions, including liver disease, cardiovascular disease and at least seven types of cancer.

“It is linked to poor mental health, depression and dependence, increases the risk of accidents, violence and injuries, and can harm the unborn child and reduce birth weight.”

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “It is everyone's right to know the fact that regularly drinking, even one drink a day, increases your risk of cancer.

"One of the problems is we have very low awareness of the risks. Many people think they are drinking moderately, but are actually in the higher risk category. The recycling bin can be a reminder just how much you are drinking.

“Cutting down on alcohol consumption can reduce people’s risk and it is sometimes easier than you might think. Taking a few days off a week from alcohol can be a really good way to reduce your risk."

The Balance campaign, which launches on Sept 4, will see a new hard hitting TV advert showing a family and a child concerned about her dad's drinking.

In addition, 2015 figures based on self-reported drinking habits found 45% of adults in the North East were drinking at levels that could be harmful to health. [ii]

People can find Balance on Facebook at www.facebook.com/balance.northeast and on Twitter @BalanceNE. Tweet using #7cancers

[i] Figures for the North East supplied by NHS Health Scotland based on regional alcohol sales data using the framework for   Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland's Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) monitoring report 2017, bringing together the latest available data on key alcohol indicators in Scotland.

[ii] Figures from 2015 Balance North East Alcohol Behaviour and Perceptions Survey; A total of 1,757 interviews were undertaken