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You might be drinking more than you think

Many men are unaware that they are drinking too much and at a level that could be harmful. A new Wellbeing and Public Health campaign will give them access to a Cornwall Council funded app that can help to track their consumption and help them reduce the amount they drink. ‘One Too Many?’ will highlight the misconceptions of so-called ‘safe’ levels of drinking and encourage men to drink more considerately, they can learn more by downloading the Drinks Meter app.

In Cornwall there are twice as many men being admitted to hospital than women for alcohol related conditions and Cornwall is worse than the England average for alcohol-related harm stays in hospital with over 1,000 people a year being admitted.

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Public Health England recommendations say that we shouldn’t drink more than 14 units a week, regardless if you’re male or female. That’s the equivalent of 5 average strength pints of beer/cider, 6 medium glasses of wine, or 7 double shots. Drinking a beer with the football or rugby each night is not likely to seem dangerous and men may perceive that one drink a night is absolutely fine, it is in fact taking them over the recommended level. The advice also says that those units should not be drunk together and it should be spread out across the week, and try to have more dry days than drinking days each week. This helps you to stay in control of your alcohol rather than the other way round.

The app asks a few simple questions about the amount you drink, how often, and if you’ve done things you regret while being under the influence. A response of yes to any of them may mean that users are drinking too much. Some of the health implications are startling; drinking just three pints is the equivalent of eating two cheeseburgers in calories alone. Research suggests that drinking at ‘low risk’ level (there’s no such thing as a ‘safe level’) for 10-20 years can increase your chances of developing a number of illnesses including heart disease, liver disease, strokes and a number of different types of cancer.

Simple advice and steps can be taken to reduce the health impact of over-consumption, just lowering drinking levels or ensuring you have at least two days off between each drink can have a significant health benefit. Taking such steps means that men’s mental and physical health will benefit.

Councillor Sally Hawken, Portfolio for Wellbeing and Public Health says, “Some men simply don’t realise that one drink a night can have serious long term effect on their health. Often “just the one” turns in to two or three and it’s really easy for this to become a regular habit, and then the risks get even higher.

“I’d encourage anyone to give their drinking more thought and explore the questions posed by this app to take steps towards a healthy future”.

The app itself can be downloaded on the Google Play store or Apple App store, and here’s a flavour of some of the questions:

  • Have you ever been embarrassed at how you looked after drinking, even in photos online?
  • Have you or someone with you ever been injured as a result of your drinking, either in an accident or a fight?
  • Have you ever looked back and realised that you had got into arguments, or fallen out with friends or partners, because of your drinking?
  • Have you been an embarrassment, a let-down or a disappointment to your friends, family or work colleagues because of your drinking?

If anyone is concerned about how much they are drinking, or concerned about someone else’s drinking they can call Healthy Cornwall on 01209 615600 or visit the Healthy Cornwall website

Story posted 10 September