Most women not aware drinking more can increase breast cancer risk 1 month ago

Most women not aware drinking more can increase breast cancer risk

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Most women are not aware that drinking more alcohol than recommended weekly guidelines can increase the risk of breast cancer.

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A new study has shown that 73% of women in Ireland do not know that consuming more alcohol than the recommended low-risk weekly intake can increase a person's chance of developing breast cancer.

This does not mean that drinking alcohol causes cancer, but rather that consistent consumption above a certain level can lead to an increased risk of the disease.

To mark this year's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Drinkaware is encouraging women to recognise the link between drinking alcohol and breast cancer risk.

The charity have provided three tips for managing and changing drinking habits during lockdown.

1. Drink less alcohol

"Limiting how much you drink is advised to reduce the risk of developing an alcohol-related cancer," they say.

"If you drink alcohol, don’t exceed the low-risk weekly guideline. This is less than 11 standard drinks for women in a week, the equivalent of approximately one bottle of wine and three longneck bottles of beer.

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"Have at least two alcohol-free days in the week. Don’t binge (6+ standard drinks in one sitting) as the liver can only process one standard drink per hour."

2. Use a measure at home

Free pouring makes it almost impossible to know how much you’re really drinking, so make sure you're actually measuring your spirits and drinks.

You can order one for free here.

3. Be sober curious

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Drinkaware suggests stocking up on alcohol-free alternatives to curb any desires you may want to over-drink.

"Cutting out alcohol entirely is one of 12 actions from the WHO European Code Against Cancer that we can take to be healthier and boost cancer prevention," they say.

This comes after a new report by the National Cancer Registry Ireland found that one-third of all cancers in Ireland could be prevented by lifestyle changes.

While the causes of cancer differ from person to person, enforcing new habits around drinking could reduce a person's risk of developing conditions like breast cancer in later life.

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“The new National Cancer Registry Ireland report on modifiable risk factors for cancer highlights the need for greater awareness of the link between alcohol intake and developing some forms of cancer, including breast cancer," says Sheena Horgan, CEO at Drinkaware.

"As the national charity working to prevent and reduce alcohol misuse, our work is focused on supporting greater understanding of alcohol’s impact on health.

1 in 5 women in Ireland have reported wanting to drink less alcohol this year, and 27% already took steps to make this change during lockdown.

A poll conducted in April of this year found that more women were drinking more during the pandemic compared to men, with almost half of respondents drinking weekly during lockdown.

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You can find out more about breast cancer and young women here, and how to check your breast here.