Dr Jeff Foster has predicted drinking alcohol will one day be considered as dangerous to our health as smoking cigarettes is now.
He has spoken out in the wake of a recent report, published in respected medical journal The Lancet, which claimed regularly drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol can cut years off your life.
He said while people were more socially aware of the potential pitfalls of drinking, they were less inclined to act on it.
The report said that a 40-year-old consuming 10 to 15 alcoholic drinks a week is in danger of shortening their life by one to two years, while regularly consuming more than 18 drinks a week could see them lose four to five years off their life.
“This report was based on a study of 600,000 drinkers and the results are very sobering,” said Dr Foster.
“The study showed the more you drink, the more you increase the risk of heart disease and heart failure, stroke, fatal hypertensive disease and fatal aortic aneurysms.
“Finally, it concluded there are no health benefits at all associated with drinking alcohol.
“All of which convinces me in the next 20 years, the life-threatening characteristics of alcohol will be seen in the same way that the dangers of smoking are viewed now.”
Dr Foster is urging drinkers to stay well within the government’s guidelines for alcohol consumption in a bid to minimise the risks.
The Chief Medical Officers’ current guidelines for both men and women are as follows:
- You are safest not to regularly drink more than 14 units per week
- If you do drink 14 units per week, it is best to spread this evenly over three days or more
- Heavy drinking sessions increase your risks of death from long-term illnesses and from accidents and injuries
- The risk of developing a range of illnesses (including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases with any amount you drink on a regular basis
- If you wish to cut down the amount you’re drinking, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week
Dr Foster said: “A beer is generally viewed as two units of alcohol, a small glass of wine 1.5 units and a small measure of spirits as one unit.
“If you are drinking strong lagers and beers or larger measures then clearly you are consuming more units, so should be drinking less to stay within the guidelines.”