October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and that means you are about to start seeing a lot of pink ribbons that remind you of important facts, like one in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime and that regular self-exams and professional screenings are key to promoting positive outcomes.
Did you know that in addition to early detection, there are preventative measures that can reduce your chances of getting breast cancer to begin with?
Although several risk factors for breast cancer exist outside of your control, like genetics, some risk factors are within your control, like
how much you drink.
Alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for breast cancer that you can control. Any amount of alcohol can increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer. The more a woman drinks, the more that risk rises. To put this into context, look at some numbers.
If a woman regularly has one alcoholic drink a week, her lifetime risk for breast cancer rises 2%; at five drinks a week, her risk rises 10%; at fourteen drinks a week, 28% (Drink Less for Your Breasts).
If you are a woman who drinks regularly, lowering your alcohol consumption or quitting completely is one of the best ways to reduce your risk for breast cancer. Unfortunately, that may be easier said than done.
Sweetwater County Prevention Coalition wants you to know that the website Drink Less for Your Breasts can help you take control of your drinking and lower your risk for breast cancer. It has studies and statistics on alcohol and breast cancer; recommendations and tools for lowering your alcohol consumption; and a range of resources related to the prevention, detection, and treatment of breast cancer.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we encourage you to try out these tips adapted from their site:
- Slow down—Drink each drink more slowly, and take more time between drinks.
- Try a little dry—Take a week or two off from drinking.
- Keep count—Count how many drinks you have each day or week and make an effort to lower it over time.
- Get support—Involve friends or family in your cut-down or quit efforts.
- Stick with it—Don’t let slips discourage you; it is normal to make several attempts before successfully cutting down or quitting drinking.
For more information on alcohol, breast cancer, and how you can take control of your drinking, go to drinklessforyourbreasts.org or email Sweetwater County Prevention Coalition at email@example.com.
Final note: Compared to women, men have much less of a lifetime risk for breast cancer at one in every 833 (“Male Breast Cancer”), and alcohol has not been shown to increase men’s risk for breast cancer as it does for women ( Bramlet ). However, alcohol does increase the risk for other cancers, including mouth, throat, esophageal, liver, and colorectal in both men and women (National Cancer Institute). The bottom line is, if you drink heavily and/or frequently, you are putting yourself at undue risk for cancer.
Feel free to contact Sweetwater County Prevention Coalition to learn about how you can quit or cut down on drinking.
Bramlet Blackburn, Kellie. “Alcohol and Breast Cancer Risk: What to Know.” MD Anderson Cancer Center, 2017, www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/alcohol-breast-cancer-risk-what-to-know.h30Z1591413.html. Accessed 20 Sept. 2023. Drink Less for Your Breasts. driMnklessforyourbreasts.org/. Accessed 20 Sept. 2023. “Male Breast Cancer – Breast Cancer in Men.” Susan G. Komen®, 16 May 2023, www.komen.org/breast-cancer/facts-statistics/male-breast-cancer/. Accessed 20 Sept. 2023. National Cancer Institute. “Alcohol and Cancer Risk.” National Cancer Institute, Cancer.gov, 14 July 2021, www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact- sheet. Accessed 20 Sept. 2023.