28 October 2013
The link between alcohol and breast cancer has been understated, according to Cancer Council SA.
A Cancer Council analysis published in the Medical Journal of Australia in 2011, showed alcohol was linked to up to 2,500 – about one in five – new cases of breast cancer every year in Australia.
Cancer Council SA Chief Executive Professor Brenda Wilson said Breast Cancer Awareness month was a good opportunity to highlight the link between alcohol and cancer to the community.
“At Cancer Council SA, we believe everyone should have the right information to make informed choices to live a healthy life by reducing our risk of cancer,” Professor Wilson said.
“There has been much publicity around raising breast cancer awareness, but how many Australian women are aware that by avoiding or reducing alcohol consumption is one of the best ways to lower our breast cancer risk?
“Alcohol is a class one carcinogen, as is tobacco and asbestos. Research suggests up to 22 per cent of Australia’s breast cancer cases could be linked with long-term alcohol consumption.”
She urged women to pledge to cut their cancer risk this Pink Ribbon Day.
“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Australian women, apart from non-melanoma skin cancer,” Professor Wilson said. “Each year, more than 13,000 Australian women are diagnosed and nearly 2,900 will die from the disease.
“While some of the established risk factors for breast cancer cannot be changed – including ageing, a previous cancer diagnosis, family history and a genetic predisposition – there is still action we can take.”
She encouraged women to limit their alcohol consumption to no more than two standard drinks per day – or avoid alcohol altogether – to reduce their risk of cancer.
Early detection also saves lives, Professor Wilson said.
“Early diagnosis is crucial for successful treatment and women need to be ‘breast aware’; regularly checking their breasts and visiting their GP if they notice any changes.
“We encourage all women aged over 50 to have a mammogram every two years through BreastScreen SA.”
Risk factors for breast cancer include increasing age, family history, inheritance of gene mutations, hormonal factors, overweight and obesity and excessive alcohol consumption. Women aged 50 and over are reminded to have breast screens every two years.
During October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Cancer Council is running its Pink Ribbon Campaign to raise money for research, prevention and support services.
To register or to donate, visit www.pinkribbon.com.au
For information and support on all cancers, speak to a cancer nurse on Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.