This is the stark warning being issued today by the British Liver Trust.
According to government figures, a staggering number of adults and teenagers over the age of 16 are drinking alcohol at limits that could cause them serious health problems, limit their life expectancy and cost the health service millions.
In England alone, an estimated 9.8 million people – approximately the size of the population of Sweden, which ironically has a lower than average alcohol consumption when compared to the rest Europe, – have drinking habits that are considered potentially harmful.
Liver disease is the third most common cause of premature death in the UK, and numbers are continuing to increase. While there are many other causes of liver disease, alcohol still remains by far the most common cause in the UK, and as dry January comes to an end the British Liver Trust is urging everyone to take at least two to three consecutive days off alcohol every week all year round, to improve their liver health.
With most deaths from alcohol related liver disease occurring between the ages of 50 and 59 and adults in England now living an average of 84 years that is a lot of years lost to drink and a lot of young lives at risk.
Elsewhere, 18% of Scottish adults were estimated to drink at dangerous levels in 2014-15, 45% of adults are considered to drink excessively by Public Health Wales and a 2013 survey in Northern Ireland estimated 25% of men and 19% of women drank at dangerous levels.
Speaking on behalf of the British Liver Trust, CEO Andrew Langford said:
“We encourage people to think about their liver health over January and hope, that as a result of abstaining from or reducing their drinking, they will develop safer drinking habits that they stick to all year round.
“Drinking above the low-risk guidelines puts people at increased risk of illnesses like liver disease, heart disease and cancer. These are diseases that kill.
“To prevent unnecessary loss of life, we also advise people who do drink to take three days each week off to give their liver chance to recover. Anyone concerned about their own drinking or that of a friend or relative should take our free online screener which can be found at www.loveyourliver.org.uk”