The real cost of alcohol

27 October 2015 | Healthy living

How drinking too much alcohol affects your cancer risk and what you can do to cut back today.

For many of us, sipping a glass of wine in front of the TV or having a drink at the pub is part of every day life. However, it’s very easy to slip into worrying drinking habits that increase your cancer risk.

For example, a night out with a friend sharing a bottle of wine over dinner could lead to you drinking around 5 units of alcohol in one go, when the daily recommended limit for women is 2-3 units.

The cost to our health

Having a few drinks may seem harmless, but did you know that if everyone in the UK stopped drinking alcohol, an estimated 24,000 cases of cancer could be prevented every year?

As well as reducing your cancer risk, cutting down on the amount you drink could help you to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, which in turn further reduces your cancer risk.

You can find out how many calories are in your favourite tipple and find less calorific alternatives, using our Alcohol Calorie Calculator.

Your alcohol action plan

The good news is that you can start to curb your alcohol intake today by following this guide to reducing your intake.

Research shows it can take around two months to develop a new habit so allow some time to get into healthy alcohol habits.

With alcohol, the pressure to drink in social situations can be significant, so the people you normally go out with may need some time to adjust to the new healthier you too! However, if tackled one step at a time, it can be possible to cut down significantly.

Week one to two

If you’ve got into the habit of drinking regularly, start by diluting your drinks with sugar-free soft drinks or soda water – choose a white wine spritzer with soda or low-sugar lemonade.

Week two to four

Try alternating between alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks. If you’re at a bar or in a pub, why not ask for a glass of tap water at the same time as you’re ordering your drink? That way you won’t be tempted to just ‘have another’.

Slow down your drinking by not holding your glass. Putting your drink down between sips will help you drink less.

Week four to eight and beyond

Keep at least two to three nights alcohol free every week. You could try making one night a walking or running night where you’ll be less tempted to drink. You’ll be staying active as well, which can help you get fitter, improve your mood and further reduce your risk of cancer.

Nancy Smith | 27 October 2015

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