Experts are proposing more stringent health warnings amid the steady increase in the number of middle-aged men who drink beer more than the allowed quantities included in the guidelines of alcohol consumption.

A past study has found that 90 percent of people in England do not believe that alcohol consumption may cause cancer, despite the fact that about seven different cancers can arise from drinking alcoholic beverages.

In January, the UK's chief medical officers have released a guideline [PDF] that lowered the alcohol intake of men from 21 units to only 14 units or 6 pints of beer. The new guidance on alcohol consumption is based on the fact that 14 units of alcohol spread across a week do not increase health risks. However, more than the said amount may up cancer risk and other alcohol-related illness, such as liver failure.

In a November research conducted by Drinkaware, a charity funded by the alcohol industry, about 3.5 million men consume more than 14 units of beer a week. The agency suggested that more robust efforts must be in place to warn the public about the negative effects of excess alcohol consumption. The research also found that middle-aged men aged 45 to 64 years old consume 37 units or 16 pints of beer in a weeks' time.

It is alarming that many of the respondents drink alcohol at levels that are even more harmful to one's health. About 800,000 were found to have at least 50 units or 21 pints of alcohol each week, and most of these individuals are often admitted in the emergency rooms for alcohol-related illnesses.

Why do they keep consuming beer given its negative effects on health?

The research said that majority of men do not believe they are doing harm to their body by consuming excessive alcohol.

"More than half (53 percent) of middle-aged men drinking above the low-risk guidelines do not believe they will never incur increased health problems if they continue drinking at their current level, with almost half (49 percent) of these drinkers also believing moderate drinking is good for your health," said the agency.

Call For Health Warnings

Alcohol Heath Alliance (AHA), an organization of several health experts and charities, also expressed concern about the figures released by Drinkaware. It is calling on authorities to impose proper health warnings on alcoholic products so the public can be aware of the negative impact alcohol has on health.

"People have a right to know the risks associated with drinking alcohol. Only with accurate and transparent information are people able to make an informed choice about how much alcohol they consume," said Professor Ian Gilmore, chair of AHA, during a group session about the chief medical officer's guidelines.

Experts are also concerned that many individuals, about 45 percent, would consume alcohol as a way to lighten up their mood and about one-third or 29 percent admit that they could not stop from drinking alcohol.

Elaine Hindal, Drinkaware chief executive, acknowledges that drinking alcohol is part of the daily routine of middle-aged men and the practice can often go unnoticed. Hindal advised that gradual reduction of alcohol consumption may be a good start of curbing alcohol dependency.

"The benefits of cutting down include having more energy, sleeping better as well as looking and feeling healthier," Hindal said. "There are a number of ways to cut down on your alcohol intake, such as avoiding situations where the temptation is high or finding a new hobby or activity."

Photo: Simon Frost | Flickr

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