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As many as 3.4m UK middle aged drinkers are at risk of health problems despite industry warnings

Published:  01 June, 2015

Drinkaware, the alcohol education charity, found that 3.4m middle aged drinkers are "regularly drinking about the lower risk limits despite many recognising the potential health arms" according to a new report.

Drinkaware, the alcohol education charity, has found that 3.4m middle-aged drinkers are "regularly drinking above the lower risk limits despite many recognising the potential health harms" according to a new report.

Middle aged drinkers are defined as the age group of 45-64 year olds. The findings challenge conventional thinking that younger drinkers are often the heaviest and most at risk population.

"In contrast to public perceptions that young adults are the more risky drinkers in the UK, in fact over the course of the week, their parents' generation are drinking more. Our research shows that 45-64 year olds could potentially be sleepwalking into long term health problems as a result of their drinking patterns," said Elaine Hindal, chief executive of Drinkaware.

The findings are a result of the Drinkaware Monitor, a survey of drinking behaviours, which found middle age drinkers are more likely than 18-24 year olds to drink at higher risk levels. Young adults tend to drink large amounts on a single occasion, but do it one or times per week versus middle aged drinkers who are more likely to spread their drinking across the week.

The 45-64 year old drinkers are drinking the equivalent of nearly three pints of 4% ABV lagers five times per week for men or three 175 ml glasses of 13% ABV for women five times per week.

Hindal warns that the long term effects of drinking could potentially put this group at risk because alcohol tolerances can increase, which may make consumers less aware of the long term risks.

"Regularly drinking above the lower risk limits can increase your tolerance to the short-term effects of alcohol - but not to the strain it's putting on your liver. As your tolerance increases, you're more likely to drink more. This habitual behaviour could also put you at an increased risk of becoming alcohol dependent," said Hindal.  

The report also found that the middle aged group of drinkers didn't seem interested in curbing their behaviour, despite knowing the health risks of excessive drinking. More than half (59%) of the those surveyed in the age group said that they don't want guidance on how to moderate their drinking.

Hindal said that to help combat long term damage drinkers are reminded to regularly take breaks from drinking.

"Just because you don't feel like you are drinking enough to get drunk, doesn't mean you aren't damaging your health. This is one of the main reasons it's important to give your liver a break by taking regular days off from drinking" she said.