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Brits drink 40% more alcohol than think

If you consider yourself a moderate drinker, you could be underestimating how much alcohol you consume by up to 40 per cent, according to a new government study.

More than 20,000 cases of cancer a year are linked to alcohol in the UK.

But new figures from the Department of Health show that many people are underestimating both the amount of alcohol they drink and how often they drink it.

An extra glass of wine a day

Its research shows that four out of five people who drink too much think of themselves as "moderate" drinkers.

Meanwhile, three out of five of these people say they have no intention of cutting back on their alcohol intake.

To find out the truth behind drinking habits in the UK, researchers from government health campaign Change4Life asked people from across the country to keep an alcohol diary for a fortnight.

After the first week, researchers found that on average participants were drinking 40 per cent more than they initially estimated - the equivalent of an additional large glass of wine every day.

Reducing alcohol intake

In the second week of the study the participants, aged between 35 and 55, were given advice to help them cut down on their drinking.

These tips included:

  • Adding more mixer to their alcoholic drinks.
  • Substituting alcoholic drinks for low-alcohol or soft drinks.
  • Having alcohol-free days.
  • Using smaller glasses.
  • Not "pre-drinking" before going out.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer at Change4Life, said: "I understand that people enjoy having a glass of wine or beer to unwind at the end of a busy day.

"But these drinks stack up and can increase your risk of high blood pressure, cancer or liver disease."

Alcohol guidelines

Davies added: "The alcohol guidelines recommend that men should not regularly drink more than three to four units a day and women should not regularly drink more than two to three units a day."

By the end of the study, the group had managed to reduce their alcohol intake by a third.

Not only did they consume 1,658 fewer calories a week, but they also saved more than £1,730 a year.

And if you have a health insurance plan you could save further, as drinking less, doing regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight means could result in cheaper premiums

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Chloe Hibbert

Adam Jolley

Chloe Hibbert covers health-related news and features for Chloe started out in the industry after graduating in English Literature.

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Alcohol: did you know?

In the UK, the alcohol limit for drivers is:

  • 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood
  • 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath
  • 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine

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