ONE in four North-East drinkers are exceeding alcohol guidelines, according to figures released by campaign group Balance.

It said an estimated 485,940 people in the region were regularly above recommended limits of 14 units a week with the heaviest drinking being seen not in young people, but in the 45 to 54 age category.

The figures were released to coincide with Balance’s ‘Can’t See It’ campaign that draws a link between excessive drinking and seven different types of cancer, and also highlights how many people are underestimating their consumption of alcohol.

It is encouraging people to take at least two or three days off drinking every week as a way of cutting down to 14 units or under and reducing the risks of an alcohol related disease.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “It’s worrying that so many people in the North- East are drinking above the guidelines, putting them at greater risk of cancer and other health conditions such a heart disease or stroke.”

Dr Tony Branson, medical director for the Northern Cancer Alliance, said: “Just like tobacco, alcohol is a cause of cancers of the bowel, mouth, throat and oesophagus. It is very easy for the units to mount up.

“There is no actual safe limit, but reducing how much you drink can help to reduce the risk.”

The current Chief Medical Officer’s guidance says that to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis, equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or six medium glasses of wine.