Swanswell welcomes new ‘traffic light’ test for hidden alcohol damage

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Swanswell’s welcoming a new traffic-light blood test that can ‘reveal hidden liver damage caused by drinking above recommended alcohol limits.’

Ultimately, tackling alcohol misuse is not something any government, business or individual can do on their own – we all have a part to play

The national charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to news today (29 August) about the test which gives an early colour-coded warning, indicating the risk of hidden damage.

Green means damage is unlikely, amber means there is a 50:50 chance of damage and red means the liver is most probably damaged - and this damage may be irreversible.

It was devised by UK doctors and combines a routine liver test that’s already in use with two others that measure the level of scarring, reports BBC News.

GPs could offer the test to patients to indicate the potential damage caused by regularly drinking above the government’s daily limit of 2 to 3 units for women and 3 to 4 units for men (with a gap of at least 48 hours between drinking to let the body recover).

Chris Robinson, Swanswell’s Director of Services, said: ‘Swanswell welcomes any attempt to reduce the damage caused by alcohol and that helps people better understand the associated harms.

‘There is a lot of confusing advice out there about how to measure someone’s alcohol intake – units can be particularly confusing – so a simple traffic light system is an effective way of indicating the potential damage.

‘However, people still need access to clearer information to make sure they’re not putting themselves in harm’s way. Although the government provides a recommended daily limit, drinking regularly can still be as harmful as binge drinking.

‘Over time, repeated alcohol use can cause irreparable damage to the liver if the signs aren’t caught early enough.

‘But while the test could be a very useful tool to spot the dangers before it’s too late, we think more needs to be done to stop people getting to this point in the first place.    

‘Having clear, independent health information about the harms of regular or excessive alcohol use available in supermarkets, bars and any other business selling alcohol would help people make an informed decision about their own drinking.

‘Ultimately, tackling alcohol misuse is not something any government, business or individual can do on their own – we all have a part to play.’

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Stuart Goodwin
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