More Women Should Learn That Alcohol Increases Breast Cancer Risk

Scientists estimate that alcohol consumption result in about one ten cases of breast cancer around the world, but only one in five women are of this relationship.  

A study out of the University of Southampton asked women at breast cancer clinics and medical appointments about their awareness of the disease to learn that very few, indeed, have this kind of knowledge. This is important, of course, because breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United Kingdom (and the most common form of cancer among women in the United States); with 54,000 diagnoses and 11,000 deaths reported every single year (UK). 

This study involved only 102 women currently undergoing mammograms as well as 103 who were seeking help for symptoms at clinics.  33 clinical staffers were also asked about their awareness. 

Symptoms of breast cancer include: change in size or shape, the discovery of a lump or thickening, redness or rash around the nipple, change in skin texture, liquid discharge, constant pain in the breast or armpit, and swelling in the same area.

Of these women who were asked about breast cancer only 16 percent of the screening group and 23 percent of the clinic group had any awareness at all that alcohol could be a risk factor.  Of the staff, only about half were aware.  

This all in mind, then, researchers now say that advising women about these risks when they attend their checkup or when they seek help specifically for concerns about breast cancer symptoms could be more opportune. Clinicians could use these moments to teach their patients about the risk. 

As a matter of fact, about thirty percent of women said they would definitely be more likely to attend a breast cancer screening if it included more information about how to reduce their risks.  

On the other hand, though, most staff responded that the quality and quantity of information available at screenings would not make much difference as at least 80 percent believe that this approach has an extreme disadvantage.  This disadvantage, primarily, is that patients would feel “to blame” for developing the disease (since you can easily abstain from alcohol).  Indeed, study author Professor Julia Sinclair explains that more than 20 percent of women between the ages of 45 and 64, reportedly, drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week. 

The results of the study have been published in the British Medical journal Online. 

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