1 in 10 Irish women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Ireland, after skin cancer, and the number of breast cancer cases is rising. Drinking alcohol is known to cause at least seven cancers, including breast cancer. Even just one drink a day will increase the risk of developing breast cancer, among others including mouth, throat and oesophageal cancers by a small amount. There’s no safe limit for alcohol when it comes to cancer, but the risk is smaller for people who drink within the low-risk alcohol guidelines. To show our support this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are encouraging people to order our free Get the Facts pack to make it easier to understand drinking habits and its impact on health and wellbeing. It’s simple – the less you drink, the lower the breast cancer risk.
For women in Ireland, the most important impact from alcohol is in relation to breast cancer. Approximately 12% of all breast cancers (300 cases per year) are associated with alcohol consumption. According to the HSE, compared with a woman who does not drink, a woman who drinks one standard drink per day is associated with a seven per cent increase in the risk of developing breast cancer, while consuming three to six standard drinks per day increases the risk of breast cancer by 41%.
There’s no safe limit for alcohol when it comes to cancer, but the risk is smaller for people who drink within the low-risk alcohol guidelines. Take small steps to drink less to help lower your cancer risk.
Are you drinking within the HSE low-risk alcohol guidelines? Less than 2% of Irish women can correctly identify the guidelines but they are important to know and can help you to see how much you are really drinking over the week. Remember, these are guidelines - not a target.
Common examples of one standard drink are a half pint of lager/stout/cider, a 100ml glass of wine or pub measure (35.5ml) of spirits. This means a woman’s weekly guidelines is less than one and a half bottles of wine, which is less than many people think. On average, it takes one hour for the body to process one standard drink and there's no quick fix - only time.
Stuck for ideas? Here are some small steps you could take to drink less alcohol. Remember, everyone’s motivation for drinking less is different so it’s important to choose small steps that work for you.