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Liver disease warning for well-off drinkers

DRINKERS who regularly consume more than the safe limits without binge drinking or getting drunk are unknowingly increasing their chances of developing cancer, liver disease and mental health issues, according to a report published today.

More than a quarter of men (26pc) are enjoying one too many -- compared to only 18pc of women, the study found.

The pattern is increasing with age, with nearly one in three men over 45 (31pc) regularly drinking more than they should.

By contrast, the highest number of female risky drinkers are in a much younger age group -- aged 16-24 (22pc).

Risky drinking is higher among professionals and those with the largest household incomes.

However there was some good news for married people -- they are less likely to show mild alcohol dependence than those who are single, separated or cohabiting (5pc compared to 12-13pc).

The research, called From One To Many, was released today by think-tank 2020 health, which called for an increased focus on addressing the problem.

It said evidence shows a 10-minute session with a doctor or nurse to talk through the health risks and ways to cut down can reduce consumption by as much as five units a week.

The think-tank also called for universal alcohol screening at the age of 30 to increase awareness and help catch potential problems before they develop.

Other recommendations include making wine more readily available in half-bottles that can be shared by two people without them going over the limit.

hnews@herald.ie