Fifth of Drinkers Exceed Government’s Recommended Alcohol Limit EVERY Week

08 January 2020

A fifth of drinkers exceed the government’s weekly recommended alcohol limit EVERY week. 

The UK guideline recommendation is to consume no more than 14 units over a seven-day period – the equivalent of five pints of beer or seven glasses of wine. 

Five pints
The government's weekly alcohol guideline is to consume no more than 14 units over a 7 day period – the equivalent of 5 pints

But 21 per cent of drinkers routinely go over this - and one in 10 drink every single day - although around half have attempted to cut down during the past five years.

Commissioned by Yorkshire Cancer Research, the research of 3,000 adults who drink also found six in 10 have no idea how much the recommended weekly limit is.

In fact, 14 per cent think the limit is 21 units – seven units more than the guideline amount.

Dr Kathryn Scott, chief executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “There is no safe level of alcohol consumption when it comes to your health. 

“Drinking alcohol is now the leading risk factor for ill health among those aged 15 to 49 – and can cause cancer.

“Seven different types of cancer are linked to drinking - including eight per cent of all breast cancer cases and six per cent of bowel cancers.”

The study found seven in 10 participants didn’t know that ANY amount of alcohol can increase the risk of developing cancer – but upon learning the truth, 79 per cent said they’d continue to drink.

On average, drinkers in the UK consume alcohol twice a week, getting through nine units - but 42 per cent will indulge more frequently than this.

However a third of those polled admit they would like to cut down on their drinking possibly due to concerns about the potential impact it can have on their health and wellbeing.

And around half of drinkers have successfully managed to do just this at one time or another – having abstained from alcohol for a month or more. 

For 37 per cent, this led to a sustained reduction in the number of units consumed - but 51 per cent soon reverted back to drinking the same amount. 

Despite the willingness among some to reduce their intake of alcohol, around half admit they don’t consider the long term health implications of drinking.

crisps and beer
A pint of lager contains the same amount of calories as a packet of salted crisps

And 70 per cent don’t worry about the number of calories – even though a pint of beer (five per cent ABV) has the same number of calories as a packet of salted crisps – 215kcal.    

And a glass of wine (175 ml, 12 per cent ABV) has the same number of calories as a chocolate mini roll – 126kcal.

Perhaps as a result, 66 per cent think more needs to be done to raise awareness of the health risks associated with alcohol.

Dr Scott added: "It’s great to see so many of those polled have abstained from alcohol at some stage.

“But it is more beneficial to our health to drink at a low level throughout the year rather than abstain for one month and then go above the government recommendations the rest of the year.”

Watch the video to find out more:


Take our quiz and test your knowledge on units here

How to reduce your alcohol intake

There are many ways to cut down your alcohol intake. The NHS recommends: 
•    Have more alcohol free days in the week
•    Set a limit on days when alcohol is consumed
•    Decide to spend only a certain amount of money on drinks and stick to this
•    Have a low sugar soft drink or water between alcoholic drinks, try low-alcohol or non-alcohol alternatives
•    Have smaller measures – for example choose a small wine instead of a large one
•    Get moral support from friends and family.


To find out why we're raising awareness about the links between alcohol and cancer, click here.


About Yorkshire Cancer Research

•    Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity. 
•    Current statistics show that 594 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. 
•    Our mission is for 2,000 more people to survive cancer every year in Yorkshire. 
•    There are lots of cancer problems across the region that need to be tackled on a local level. We work in partnership with researchers, clinicians, the NHS, public health bodies and other charities to fund innovative work in four key areas: prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and clinical trials. 
•    For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.


Nikki Brady, Senior PR Officer, Yorkshire Cancer Research. Tel: 01423 877228. Email:


Help us do more

Your support will help us save more Yorkshire lives.

Fundraising Events Shop with us Volunteering Cancer in Yorkshire