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University of Southampton liver expert Dr Nick Sheron is calling for safe drinking guidelines
A HAMPSHIRE doctor is calling for official guidelines on safe drinking to encourage people to take several days off boozing every week.
With the Government revising its recommendations on alcohol consumption, liver expert Dr Nick Sheron wants the advice to make it clear that drinking even small amounts every day will increase health risks.
With the party season now behind us, the consultant is urging people to consider cutting out the booze during the week.
Liver disease is now the fifth biggest cause of death in the UK.
In 2010 it was responsible for thousands of deaths.
University of Southampton-based Dr Sheron said alcohol can also cause high blood pressure, and is responsible for ten per cent of all cancer cases in the country, with the risks growing as a direct result of increased consumption.
He said: “Alcohol is a drug of addiction – it causes dependency and the more you drink the more likely you are to become dependent.
“It’s pretty difficult to get liver disease unless you’re drinking on a daily basis and having more than 30 or 40 units a week.
“But sharing a bottle of wine a night and having a couple more on the weekends is quite easy.
“If you drink on a daily basis your alcohol intake gradually creeps up as you build up a tolerance and you tend to drink more.”
Last year Dr Sheron developed a new blood test for liver disease which is being used by GPs up and down the country, called the Southampton Traffic Light Test.
The test looks for signs in the blood of liver scarring and scores on a traffic light system, helping to spot liver disease early and allow patients to change their habits to improve their health.
Dr Sheron said there are significant health benefits to be gained by lowering drinking levels, and wants government guidelines, which currently suggest men should have only “three or four units” a day, to officially recommend not drinking every day.
He said: “They’ve very sensibly said it’s not a good idea to drink on a daily basis.
“The easiest thing for people to do is to cut out the alcohol on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and still enjoy a drink on Friday and Saturday.
“If you find it difficult to cut out the booze that’s sort of a pointer that alcohol is too important in your life and you are somewhere on that spectrum of alcohol dependency.”