The Dutch don’t know enough about the harm alcohol does to the body and should take an exam to raise their awareness, the health ministry has said.
The survey, commissioned by the health ministry and the Trimbos Institute for addiction and mental health, showed only 8.6% of respondents knew about the link between alcohol and cancer while one in 20 said they were aware alcohol can increase the chances of breast cancer.
Over half of respondents said they knew that structural abuse of alcohol can cause brain damage such as Korsakov’s disease.
The health ministry has now created a so-called alcohol exam to boost the nation’s knowledge about the effects of alcohol.
‘Like many I enjoy a glass of wine or beer from time to time and I would not want to take that away from anyone. But at the same time the risks to health are considerable and we should all become more aware of this and the exam can help,’ junior health minister Paul Blokhuis told the AD.
However, the survey also showed that while people with a higher level of education are more aware of the risks of alcohol they are also drinking more than people without a university degree. Young people, too, know more about the risks but youngsters between 20 and 25 binge drink more often.
The risk of cancer increases even with a small intake of alcohol, professor Bart Kiemeney of the Radboud hospital in Rotterdam warned. ‘Without alcohol we would have around 3,500 fewer diagnoses of cancer each year. Alcohol is the cause in all cases of cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus,’ the AD quotes him as saying.
According to the Trimbos Institute over 14 units of alcohol a week puts women in the excessive drinkers category. Men are considered excessive drinkers if they have more than 21. The national guideline is to abstain completely if possible.
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