The risks of over-indulgence
Regularly drinking more than the recommended daily limits risks damaging your health, experts warn.
Liver problems, reduced fertility, high blood pressure, increased risk of various cancers and heart attacks are some of the harmful effects, according to the NHS Choices website.
"The effects of alcohol on your health will depend on how much you drink. The more you drink, the greater the health risks," it states.
Men are told to drink no more than four units a day, for women it is no more than three units. Not sticking to these limits means:
- Men are 1.8 to 2.5 times as likely to get cancer of the mouth, neck and throat, and women are 1.2 to 1.7 times as likely.
- Women are 1.2 times as likely to get breast cancer.
- Men are twice as likely to develop liver cirrhosis, and women are 1.7 times as likely.
However, one Northern Ireland doctor has called for clearer advice on what people can drink.
George O'Neill, a GP with 40 years' experience, said current guidelines were too generic and did not take account of variances in people's make-up. He also said people had little understanding of what alcohol units actually mean.
Dr O'Neill said drinkers who occasionally exceed the guidelines are unlikely to cause themselves serious harm. However, he urged people not to drink every day, saying a break enabled the liver to recover. He said: "If you take a short rest from alcohol, say a couple of days or a week, then it can return to normal, but constant drinking is not good," he said.