One in five people in Bucks drink enough to damage their health, it has been revealed.
Some 90,000 people, not just binge drinkers and weekend revellers, are at risk of conditions like heart disease and cancer because they drink too much alcohol.
A county council report has said more must be done to raise awareness of this danger.
Although drinking levels in Bucks are no worse than other areas, it is estimated to be costing the county’s NHS £26 million a year.
Of this, £15.5 million is generated by inpatient admissions, with over-55s accounting for 71% of this and 16 to 24 year olds just 4%.
A cross-party group of county and district councillors produced the report after five months looking at alcohol misuse.
Their recommendations will now go to the county council’s cabinet on April 29.
The group believes the extent of the problem is not obvious because most people under-report what they drink and because two-thirds of alcohol is bought off-trade and consumed at home.
Tracey Ironmonger, the council’s assistant director of public health, said: “Many people may not realise that they are drinking alcohol to a level that is a risk to their health.
“It is estimated that in Buckinghamshire around one in five people drink alcohol at a level that will put them at increased risk of a number of long term conditions including heart disease, stroke and a number of cancers.
“Reducing the negative impact of alcohol on health and wellbeing has been identified as a priority in the local health and wellbeing strategy.
“Supporting people to understand the risks from alcohol and encouraging them to drink within safe limits can make a contribution to both the health of individuals and the health of the population in Buckinghamshire.”
The report will contribute to the Bucks alcohol strategy, which aims to reduce the number of people drinking above recommended levels.
To view the report in full click here.