When I was asked if I was doing Dry January, the thought initially made me shudder. So called ‘dryathletes' give up alcohol for a month and watch the pounds tumble off the waistline. After Christmas, who doesn't want that?
Most of us know what potential damage alcohol can do. Liver disease tops the list, but very few of us take a second to think about where the real problem lies.
The first point of call for alcohol is the mouth. Alcohol is responsible for around four per cent of cancers in the UK, and it's not just heavy drinkers who are affected. The more you drink and the more often you drink, the more you increase your risk of developing cancer mouth cancer.
Now in its third year, the Dry January campaign aims to get you abstaining for a month. As mouth cancer campaigners, the British Dental Health Foundation fully supports those giving up alcohol for any period of time. Our key message is drinking alcohol to excess, a message many seem to ignore, given the high number of people admitting to binge drinking. From our point of view, that is why Dry January is important for reducing the risk of developing the disease.
Giving up is exactly what I'm doing, and here's why:
- People who have gone dry in previous Dry January campaigns have experienced a range of benefits including weight loss, sleeping better, saving money, and learning that they don't need alcohol to enjoy themselves.
- You are three times more likely to develop cancers of the mouth and throat by drinking above the recommended limits.
- Alcohol is linked to over 60 different medical conditions, including strokes, heart disease, osteoporosis, raised blood pressure and a range of cancers including mouth, upper throat, food pipe, voice box, breast, bowel and liver.
If those reasons aren't enough, here's an exert from mouth cancer sufferer Gordon Mullen's story:
"It was brutal, really horrible. The side effects were horrific; you can't eat, your whole mouth is covered in blisters, you can't speak - I ended up with a feeding tube up my nose. I had to learn how to eat and speak again afterwards because the tongue doesn't work the way it used to."
Join me and support our action against mouth cancer by giving up alcohol and donating money raised by visiting www.mouthcancer.org.