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04 Dec 2021

‘Know the guidelines - protect your pair’ - Drinkaware urges public to be aware of link between alcohol and breast cancer

‘Know the guidelines - protect your pair’

‘Know the guidelines - protect your pair’

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Drinkaware, the national charity working to prevent and reduce alcohol misuse, is urging the public to be aware of the link between alcohol and breast cancer.

Highlighting the need for awareness and education of the HSE low-risk weekly guidelines and the dangers of binge drinking.

Drinkaware’s annual Barometer conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes in April 2021, revealed that 50% of women are drinking on at least a weekly basis and 14% of women who drink are binge drinking (consuming 6 or more standard drinks) when they drink. Just 5% of women can correctly identify the HSE low-risk weekly guidelines for females.  

The lack of awareness and knowledge of the HSE low-risk weekly guidelines is a barrier for both women and men in protecting their health and wellbeing and this Breast Cancer Awareness Month Drinkaware is putting a spotlight on the guidelines.  

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Drinkaware has three tips to support women to understand their drinking habits and make changes to protect health and wellbeing: 

Drink less alcohol: 

Limiting how much you drink is advised to reduce the risk of developing an alcohol-related cancer. If you drink alcohol, don’t exceed the low-risk weekly alcohol guidelines.

This is less than 11 standard drinks for women in a week, the equivalent of approx. one bottle of wine and three longneck bottles of beer. 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. 

Use a measure at home: Free pouring makes it almost impossible to know how much you’re really drinking. Use a measure for spirits and wine. Order one for free at www.drinkaware.ie  

Be sober curious: Stock up on alcohol-free alternatives. 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. 

Drinkaware CEO Sheena Horgan commented:  

“The 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.

"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. 

"Drinking alcohol doesn’t mean you will develop breast cancer – but it does mean the risk is higher[ii]. And while there are many causes of breast cancer, lifestyle changes like cutting down or cutting out alcohol, is an action women can take to reduce their risk[iii].   

"In order to reduce their risk, women need to know and understand the Low-Risk Weekly Guidelines, yet our research shows that 98% of adults in Ireland are not aware of the low-risk weekly guidelines, and a Healthy Ireland Survey found that three quarters of women were not aware that drinking more than the guidelines can increase breast cancer risk[iv]. . If we want to reduce alcohol-related harm to health, we need to ensure more women are aware of both. 

"Women are, however, willing to change. 1 in 4 report wanting to drink less and 38% have already taken steps to do this during lockdown. A consistent 60% of visits to www.drinkaware.ie are women so there are encouraging signs, and clearly an appetite for supports to change drinking habits. 

"Breast Cancer Awareness Month gives us the chance to put the focus on women’s health, and to support each other and renew our collective efforts to reduce the impact of alcohol misuse.

"We need to empower women to explore healthier habits and coping strategies that don’t involve alcohol, and encourage them to seek support, advice and tips at www.drinkaware.iewww.hse.ie and www.mariekeatingfoundation.ie.” 
 
When it comes to breast cancer, to decrease risk and increase protection women need to know the guidelines. 
 

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