Online booze tracker to reduce mouth cancer

A cancer charity has come up with a novel way of beating mouth cancer – via the internet.

Cancer Research UK’s new online ‘Track Your Drinking’ Google gadget enables people to monitor their drinking habits while comparing them to recommended intake levels – one small drink a day for women (about two units) and two small drinks a day for men (about three to four units).

The gadget also allows users to compare their drinking levels to national averages for different age groups and regions.

Alcohol is one of the most important lifestyle risk factors for cancer. It is proven to increase the risk of at least seven different types of cancer and every year causes about 9,000 cancer deaths in the UK. By keeping with recommended guidelines people can help reduce their risk.

The ‘Track Your Drinking’ Google gadget is easy to install, either online via the ‘iGoogle’ homepage, or on a computer using Google Desktop.

Once the gadget is installed, users enter what they drink each day.

The gadget instantly converts this to units and calories, and over time creates an easy-to-understand chart.

Ed Yong, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Scientists have proven that alcohol is an important risk factor for cancer – the best estimates suggest it causes about 14,000 new cases in the United Kingdom every year.

‘Guidelines about drinking limits can be confusing if people don’t know how many units are in common drinks, or find it difficult to keep track of what they drink over time.

‘But our new gadget paints a simple picture of how much you’re drinking and how this changes over the course of weeks or months.

‘Hopefully, it will help people to make informed decisions about how much alcohol they drink.’

Along with smoking, alcohol causes the vast majority of mouth and food pipe cancers. In the last decade, mouth cancer has become much more common and this may be because of higher levels of drinking. Scientists have also estimated that alcohol causes about 2,000 cases of breast cancer in the UK every year.

To use Cancer Research UK’s online drinking tracker, visit http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/healthyliving/alcohol/gadget/ and follow the simple instructions.

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