Why Drinkaware campaigns on the link between alcohol and breast cancer

Date Published

1st October 2020




Elaine Hindal, Chief Executive at Drinkaware

I read an important study recently on alcohol’s effects on breast cancer in women[i]. In it, the authors share overwhelming evidence on the causal link between drinking alcohol and breast cancer, but they also give examples of studies that show public awareness of alcohol as a risk factor for breast cancer is still low.

It highlights, as we enter into October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, why Drinkaware campaigns on this issue.

Breast cancer has many causes, and some are out of our control. Alcohol is one of the few causes of that we do have some control over. No matter how much we drink, cutting down will help reduce our risk of breast cancer.

One in 13 cases of breast cancer is caused by drinking alcohol[ii]. Studies have included hundreds of thousands of women, and the evidence is consistent – drinking alcohol can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

Hearing this message isn’t always easy though. Breast cancer can be a horribly indiscriminate disease and its cause in many women can come down to different things. Often it’s just awful luck.

But Cancer Research UK estimates that almost a quarter of cases are preventable[iii]. Making healthy lifestyle choices like not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and getting physical exercise, can all help to reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

Cutting back on alcohol – or even cutting it out completely – is a lifestyle choice we can all make that will have many benefits, including reducing our risk of breast cancer. Drinking less can help reduce our risk of other serious cancers and health issues like high blood pressure and liver disease. And cutting back can help us control our weight, get a better night’s sleep and even improve our mental health.

Globally, more than two million new cases of breast cancer are reported every year. In the UK, nearly 1,000 women die of breast cancer every month.

It is crucial that Drinkaware and others continue to spread the word that taking control of our health can help reduce our risk of breast cancer.

[i] https://www.arcr.niaaa.nih.gov/arcr402/article11.htm

[ii] https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/breast-cancer/risk-factors#heading-Ten

[iii] https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/breast-cancer/risk-factors