Alcohol – the ignored breast cancer risk factor

Drinking alcohol has been proven to increase the risk of developing breast cancer in over 100 studies, but both the general public and health professionals continue to ignore the issue.

According to UK researchers, alcohol use is now estimated to be a major causative factor in between 5% to 11% of all breast cancer cases, but in their study, published in BMJ Open, less than one in five women attending a mammogram knew of the risk of alcohol, and – perhaps more worrying – less than half of the staff at the breast centre identified alcohol as a breast cancer risk factor.

The mixed methodology study included over 200 woman attending a breast clinic for breast imaging – about half were symptomatic and the other half presented just for routine screening. These woman were surveyed along with over 30 staff. Following the survey a series of focus groups were conducted with both the women and the staff.

Looking at different risk factors, ...

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