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Know your limits: drinks 'calculator' raises awareness of safe alcohol consumption

Published: 10 January 2006

A new website which helps calculate the damage done to an individual's liver and other organs by drinking unsafe amounts of alcohol has just been launched.

The 'Drinkulator' traffic light drink calculator is the brainchild of students and staff at the University of Southampton's School of Medicine.

The calculator assesses whether an individual's current drinking levels are unsafe, based on responses to a series of brief questions about health and lifestyle. It is a feature of the Drinksafely website, which aims to promote safe and sensible drinking. The website was developed by fourth-year Southampton medical students as part of their studies and is sponsored by the Alcohol Education and Research Council.

The Drinksafely website's launch coincides with continued concerns about the dangers of excessive drinking. Total recorded alcohol consumption in the UK is estimated to have doubled between 1960 and 2002 and deaths from liver disease have increased eight-fold since the 1970s.

Dr Nick Sheron, consultant hepatologist and senior lecturer at the University explains: "The 'Drinkulator' calculator will help everyone who likes to drink to establish whether they are drinking safe amounts of alcohol. It's a very quick and simple test which can assess whether you are at risk of alcohol-related diseases such as liver cirrhosis or liver cancer which can develop almost unnoticed.

"As well as the calculator, the website covers both positive and negative health aspects of alcohol and is full of advice and information about how to recognise problems and how to cut down."  

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Notes for editors

  1. Established in 1971, the University of Southampton's School of Medicine is at the forefront of medical and basic science research. It is one of the top ten UK medical schools for research income and high quality outputs, and its innovative educational programme has been rated excellent (the highest possible rating) by the government-backed Quality Assurance Agency.
    The School is committed to academic excellence in all aspects of research and medical education. It operates a highly focused research strategy with large interdisciplinary Research Divisions that bridge traditional subject boundaries. These divisions provide a critical mass of research resources and explore areas of common intellectual interests around important clinical problems. There are six Research Divisions and an Education Division reflecting the School's major strengths: Human Genetics; Community Clinical Sciences; Infection, Inflammation and Repair; Cancer Sciences; Developmental Origins of Health and Disease; and Clinical Neurosciences.
  2. The University of Southampton is one of the UK's top 10 research universities, with a global reputation for excellence in both teaching and research. With first-rate opportunities and facilities across a wide range of subjects in science and engineering, health, arts and humanities, the University has around 20,000 students and 5000 staff at its campuses in Southampton and Winchester. Its annual turnover is in the region of £274 million.
    Southampton is recognised internationally for its leading-edge research in engineering, science, computer science and medicine, and for its strong enterprise agenda. It is home to world-leading research centres, including the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton; the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research; the Optoelectronics Research Centre; the Textile Conservation Centre; the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease; and the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies.

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