Education better against alcohol abuse

SINGAPORE- Mr Liew Kai Khiun ("Combat alcohol addiction..."; last Tuesday) said there should be a ban on alcohol consumption in public places between 11pm and 7am, and suggested that family members be allowed to apply for "exclusion orders" for their loved ones with drinking problems.

In my view, education is much more effective than an outright ban.

In fact, alcoholism poses great long-term health risks.

According to Bupa, a leading international health-care group founded in Britain, alcohol is linked to 12,500 cases of cancer in Britain each year, and a person who smokes and drinks is up to 50 times more likely to get some types of cancer than someone who never smokes or drinks alcohol.

Men who regularly drink more than eight units of alcohol a day nearly double their risk of coronary heart disease, are four times more likely to have hypertension and double their risk of stroke.

Women who regularly drink more than six units of alcohol a day are also slightly more likely to develop coronary heart disease, double their risk of hypertension and are four times more likely to have a stroke.

If a person regularly drinks too much alcohol, he or she is at risk of developing a range of alcoholic liver diseases, including fatty liver disease, hepatitis, fibrosis or scarring of the liver. In 2010, alcohol-related liver diseases were responsible for over six out of 10 alcohol-related deaths in Britain.

Drinking heavily over a long time can severely affect one's mental health. It can increase anxiety and cause depression. It is also associated with risk-taking behaviour, personality disorder, schizophrenia and suicide.

Last but not least, regular heavy alcohol use can cause a lack of vitamin B1, which, if left untreated, can lead to permanent memory loss.

Some research has shown that heavy drinking over time can damage one's brain, which can cause problems with learning, thinking and problem-solving.

Li Dan Yue (Ms)

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