New health guidance has been released telling family doctors to send women who drink two glasses of wine a night for scans to check for signs of liver damage.
The new advice has come from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice), which says that around two million people are drinking amounts of alcohol which is putting them in danger of developing potentially deadly cirrhosis.
Doctors are being urged to send women consuming two glasses of wine a night, and men who drink three pints of beer a night, or the equivalent, for health checks to look for scarring of the liver.
According to latest research, Britain is the worst country in the western world for alcohol consumption among women who are educated. Those who have a good education are twice as likely to be drinking problem amounts.
However, Nice has been accused of scaremongering. Critics said such checks would place too much strain on already beleagured NHS resources. The new guidance comes following warnings from the Chief Medical Officer to think about the risk of cancer before having an alcoholic drink.
Nice says that men who are drinking more than 50 units a week and women having more than 35 units should be offering the check. The health body feels that earlier diagnosis of liver disease will mean patients get the help they need.
Charities, which find themselves dealing with the fallout of alcohol abuse, say that the new regulations are to be welcomed as they will give many people drinking to excess pause for thought.
Currently, liver disease is the fifth largest cause of death across England and Wales, leading to nearly 8,000 deaths each year. While many diseases are falling in prevelance, cases of cirrhosis are actually on the rise, going up by a worrying 50 per cent in just ten years.