A DOCTOR from Warwickshire predicts drinking alcohol will one day be considered as dangerous to health as smoking cigarettes is now.
Dr Jeff Foster has spoken out in the wake of a documentary by BBC TV and radio presenter Adrian Chiles in which he admitted drinking between 80 and 100 units of alcohol a week.
Dr Foster is urging drinkers to stay well within the government’s guidelines for alcohol consumption in a bid to minimise the risks and to not regularly drink more than 14 units a week.
In Drinkers Like Me, Mr Chiles said he did not feel he fitted the stereotypical description of an alcoholic, as he did not wake up in shop doorways or drink in the morning.
But the programme revealed he had already done significant damage to his liver and was at risk of cirrhosis, liver disease and liver failure if he did not change his ways.
Dr Foster, of Leamington-based TFJ Private GP Services, said the documentary confirmed his belief that while people were more socially aware of the potential pitfalls of drinking, they were less inclined to act on it.
A report published in medical journal The Lancet earlier this year said a 40-year-old consuming ten to 15 alcoholic drinks a week was 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.
Dr Foster said: “If you will pardon the pun, Drinkers Like Me was a very sobering watch and is a good opportunity for people to re-examine their own relationship with alcohol.
“The programme showed us the definition of a ‘problem drinker’ is probably different to the one we have in our heads. It doesn’t just mean someone who needs a drink first thing in the morning.
“All the evidence is pointing towards alcohol being a negative influence on our health, which convinces me that 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.
“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.”