Chief medic calls for two alcohol-free days per week

Glasses of wine
Image caption The campaign is aimed at adults who regularly unwind with a couple of drinks in the evening

Drinkers should have at least two alcohol-free days a week, says Wales' top doctor.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Jewell has launched a new campaign urging people to cut the amount they consume.

The campaign is aimed at adults who regularly unwind with a couple of drinks in the evening, but are unaware of the long-term problems of this.

Dr Jewell said people had to be honest about how much they drank, adding that cutting down had major health benefits.

There are similar campaigns in both England and Scotland.

Under the recommended guidelines for alcohol consumption, women are only allowed two to three units per day, no more than a standard 175ml glass of wine.

Men are can drink three to four units per day, not much more than a pint of strong lager, beer or cider.

In addition to drinking within these guidelines, Dr Jewell's campaign advises that everybody should aim to have at least two alcohol-free days a week.

Dr Jewell said: "Drinking too much is bad for your health, your waistline, your wallet - and your future.

"Many people are unaware of what a unit of alcohol is, and of how many units they consume.

"The people we want to reach with this campaign are those who regularly unwind with a couple of drinks in the evening, and are unaware of the long term health problems their habits are creating.

"In fact, drinking just above the lower-risk guidelines on a regular basis puts you at risk of serious health problems, from liver damage to a greater risk of getting cancer or having a heart attack.

"We aren't saying people should give up drinking completely, but cutting down has major health benefits."

Dr Jewell said once people started cutting back, they would notice the benefits quite quickly, such as feeling better in the mornings, having more energy, better skin and losing a few pounds.

Binge drinking

The campaign was launched at the Quadrant shopping centre in Swansea.

Shoppers were invited to try an online calculator to work out how many units of alcohol they consume.

Dr Jewell also urged people to visit the Change4Life Wales website to find out whether they needed to cut down, and for tips on how to do it without feeling they are missing out.

According to the Welsh government, 59% of men aged 45 to 64 drink above the recommended guidelines, 11% of men aged between 45 and 54 drink every day and 16% three or four times a day

It said the cost of excess alcohol consumption to the NHS in Wales amounted to between £69.9m and £73.3m in 2008/09, between 1.27% and 1.33% of total health care expenditure.

Last month, a television advertising campaign in England warned that drinking a little more than the recommended daily limit of alcohol increased the risk of serious health problems.

Meanwhile, the Scottish government also launched a campaign last month to encourage women to "drop a drink size".

It is targeting those aged from 31 to 50 as part of a "changing attitudes" campaign.

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