Health

England's medical chief gives stark alcohol warning

Dame Sally

England's chief medical officer says people must take personal responsibility for their drinking and consider cancer risks with each glass.

Dame Sally Davies said when she reaches for a glass of wine she questions whether she wants the wine or to raise her risk of breast cancer.

Speaking at a science and technology committee hearing, she urged other people to do the same.

It comes as official UK figures show alcohol-related deaths are rising.

Making choices

Although alcohol-related deaths have fallen since peaking in 2008, experts are concerned the rates are going up again.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics show there were 8,697 alcohol-related deaths registered in the UK in 2014 - 14.3 per 100,000 of the population.

This compares to 14 deaths per 100,000 in 2013.

Dame Sally said: "I would like people to make their choice knowing the issues and do as I do when I reach for my glass of wine and think, 'Do I want my glass of wine or do I want to raise my risk of breast cancer?'. And I take a decision each time I have a glass."

Recent changes to official guidelines recommend both men and women should have no more than 14 units of alcohol spread over a few days.

The changes came about because of mounting evidence that there is no safe limit in terms of health risks such as cancer.

Previously limits were set at 21 units for men and 14 units for women per week.

Tom Smith, of charity Alcohol Concern, said: "These latest figures show that alcohol-related deaths are back on the rise.

"The figures also highlight the dangers of middle-aged drinking, with the highest number of alcohol-related deaths among 55 to 64-year olds."

Dame Sally Davies was speaking at a committee meeting to discuss the new guidelines among other health issues.

Public Health England experts say they are putting together a report on how to reduce the harms caused by alcohol.

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