Published On: Fri, May 6th, 2022

Slash ‘safe’ drink limits for anyone overweight to cut risk of cancer


Now scientists want recommended drinking limits to be slashed for those overweight. Data on nearly 400,000 UK adults found even moderate drinkers who stayed within safe guidelines were at 53 percent greater risk if they were carrying too much weight. This compared to a 19 percent increased cancer risk of drinking within guidelines for those of a healthy weight.

Being overweight or obese also made drinkers more likely to develop liver disease, a separate study found. UK chief medical officers say it is safest for men and women not to drink more than 14 units a week – equivalent to six pints of beer or 10 small glasses of lower-strength wine.

Dr Elif Inan-Eroglu, who conducted both studies when at the University of Sydney, thinks the guidelines are ­­too general.

She said: “People with obesity, especially those with excess body fat, need to be more aware of the risks around alcohol consumption. Alcohol drinking guidelines should consider the obesity ­levels of people.”

The study also found drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week increased the chance of c­ancer by 61 percent if overweight.

This compares to a 37 percent increased cancer risk of drinking above guidelines for ­those of healthy weight, compared to teetotallers not overweight.

The eight alcohol-related cancers considered in the study were oral, throat, larynx, oesophagus, liver, bowel, stomach and breast cancer. The research is presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Maastricht, Netherlands.

An earlier study, published in the European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, found the overweight or obese had an over 50 percent greater risk of developing liver disease compared to those of normal weight consuming the same level of alcohol.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: “Alcohol is responsible for 46 new cancer cases every day in the UK.

“This latest research is yet another reminder of the damage that alcohol can do to our health, and particularly underlines the combined cancer risk of obesity and calorie-rich alcohol.”

Should obese people be ordered to cut their alcohol consumption?

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YES, says Tam Fry National Obesity Forum

Overweight people should indeed be ordered to drink less alcohol in an attempt to reduce cancer patient numbers. This is not a “nanny state” measure but plain good advice.

I heard reports about a pub chain promoting an 11-hour “pub crawl” for coach loads of punters to down a pint at every stop, which captures Britain’s booze culture in a nutshell.

In a single day the trippers will have exceeded the recommended alcohol allowance for a whole week. They may get lucky and not contract cancer but too many will.

Though the government cannot actually order voters to stop their bad habits, it can demand GPs ram home the message to lay off the drink.

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NO, says Christopher Snowdon Institute of Economic Affairs

It is hard to see what will be gained by telling people who are obese to drink even less alcohol.

If they followed health guidelines, they wouldn’t be obese in the first place.

The public health lobby can make all the recommendations it wants but it cannot force us to abide by them. This is fortunate because the alcohol guidelines have no basis in science.

In 2016, the weekly “limit” for men was lowered from 21 units to 14 – the equivalent of seven pints of beer.

The evidence overwhelmingly shows people can drink considerably more than 14 units a week and live longer than a teetotaller. Fat or thin, moderate drinkers are healthier and probably happier.



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