Our recent partnership with Breast Cancer Now for Dry January 2017 allowed us to raise awareness of the link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. Currently, the guidelines advise that women do not exceed an intake of 14 units a week. That’s about the equivalent of 7 standard glasses of wine or 7 pints of beer.

Recommendations from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies include:

  • People to have several ‘dry’ (alcohol free) days a week
  • Spread your drinking over three or more days to reduce your risk of death from long term illnesses as well as accidents and injuries
  • There is no safe level of alcohol to drink when pregnant

So what are the risks to women?

A woman’s body processes alcohol much slower than a man’s; there are some biological reasons for this occurring. A woman’s body contains less water and more body fat than a man’s – whilst water dilutes the alcohol the body fat will absorb the alcohol leading to the alcohol being in your system for longer. The hormone levels in a woman’s body also change during the menstrual cycle and can affect how women metabolize alcohol.

Numerous studies have shown that drinking alcohol can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. The latest alcohol consumption guidelines explain there is no completely safe level of drinking and any amount of alcohol you consume increases your risk of developing cancer.

A report by Cancer Research UK found that only 1 in 10 people are aware of the link between alcohol and cancer. Public opinion polling from the Alcohol Heath Alliance found that only one in three people know that there is an increased risk of breast cancer.

Whilst there are other risk factors involved in developing breast cancer, alcohol acts as one of these risk factors and the intake is something that we can control.

Additionally, a woman’s liver is unable to break down alcohol as quickly as men’s and their liver may take longer to repair the damage after it has been done.

People should be equipped with the correct information in order to make informed choices about their drinking.