In Depth

Middle-aged drinkers ‘should have more alcohol-free days’

Days of abstinence each week would improve sleep and reduce risk of heart disease and cancers

Middle-aged drinkers are being urged to have more alcohol-free days a week in a bid to cut its related health risks.

People aged between 45 and 65 “are more likely than any other group to consume more than the recommended 14 units a week”, reports The Independent.

Public Health England says introducing regular days off - preferably two consecutively - “will improve sleep while reducing the risk of heart disease, liver problems, cancers and high blood pressure”, the paper adds.

Dr Julia Verne, a spokeswoman on liver disease for Public Health England said: “Having a day off drinking gives you a chance to clean your system and give your liver a rest. It also has an immediate impact on your sleep and calorie consumption.”

“People have also told us that the idea of a 'drink-free' day is much easier to manage than cutting down, say, from one large glass of wine to a small glass of wine.”

The campaign, Drink Free Days is a partnership between Public Health England and the alcohol education charity Drinkaware.

A poll of nearly 9,000 adults by YouGov suggested people would find cutting down on their drinking harder than improving their diet, exercising more or cutting down on smoking.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England told The Times: “Setting yourself a target of having more drink-free days every week is an easy way to drink less and reduce the risks to your health. Our best evidence says try to make it consecutive two days if you can. It's not a target, it's not to go mad on the other five days, it's an achievable way of thinking about how to manage your levels of drink.”

Selbie added that the health risks of drinking should not be regarded in the same way as smoking, and that “narking at people” about what they may be doing wrong was futile.

He said: “What is the point in being at some distance in people’s lives and just telling them they are doing everything wrong? But if we can run towards them with something they find helpful, that’s got to be a good thing.”

The guidance of not exceeding 14 units of alcohol a week comes from the UK's chief medical officer - with a unit equivalent to a single measure of spirits or half a pint of average strength lager.

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