Alcohol Issues

Alcohol Issues

Currently, over 90% of Scottish adults drink alcohol to some extent. With regards to oral cancer, if patients both smoke and drink, the risks are not merely additive, but multiplicative. People who smoke two or more packets of cigarettes and drink four or more units of alcohol per day have a 35 times increased risk of developing oral cancer, compared to those who neither smoke nor drink more than two units of alcohol a day.  

Sensible Drinking

Most Scots drink alcohol to some extent, with around 10% not drinking any alcohol at all.

your patient

  • Asking about your patient's alcohol intake is especially important if they both smoke and drink. The risks of developing oral cancer are not merely additive, but multiplicative.

ADVISE your patient

  • Advise your patient to drink within recommended limits. Men should drink no more than 3 units a day, with women drinking no more than 2 units per day. Avoid binge drinking and have a couple of alcohol-free days each week (Alcohol Units).
  • If the patient has a suspicious lesion, or has previously had oral cancer, abstention is advised.

ASSIST your patient

  • Give your patient information on sensible drinking. Health Promotion Departments and Alcohol Focus Scotland have information available (Useful Contacts).

ARRANGE follow-up

  • If you suspect that your patient may be drinking excessively,
    then referral to a specialist agency may be the most appropriate line of action.
  • Alcohol Focus Scotland (0141 572 6700) has 29 local councils who provide a counselling service for people with alcohol problems and their families. By phoning this main number, individuals can be put in touch with a local council in their area.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous: Helpline (24 Hours) 0845 769 7555.
  • Drinkline (national helpline) 0800 917 8282

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