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February 16, 2019

Link between alcohol and cancer is 'ignored by middle-aged women'

Link between alcohol and cancer is ignored by middle-aged women
Link between alcohol and cancer is ignored by middle-aged women

Middle-aged women are not getting the message about the proven link between alcohol and breast cancer, new research suggests.

Females in their 40s, 50s and 60s are still consuming large mounts of wine, beer and spirits despite rates of the disease rising in their age brackets.

Data from Flinders University in Adelaide shows a disconnect between the cause and effect, despite public awareness campaigns. 

But they accept alcohol can result in weight gain and lead to relationship breakdowns. 

Study lead author Dr Emma Miller said: There is a low level of awareness about the established link between alcohol and breast cancer, and some confusion about the risk given the community perception that not all drinkers get breast cancer.

'So it's really important to understand the patterns and drivers behind drinking behaviour in order to develop policies and interventions that might reduce the increasing burden on the women and our health system.'

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, accounting for more than 13 per cent of all new forms of the disease and 28 per cent of all malignant tumours diagnosed in women.

As part of the study, 35 South Australian women - aged between 45 and 64 - who have never been diagnosed with cancer, were interviewed about their alcohol consumption, education level and perceived risk of breast cancer.  

Dr Miller claims the findings suggest targeted messages that address short-term risks will have the greatest impact. 

'Alcohol is firmly entrenched in the fabric of Australian society, providing pleasure and defining the major events in most of our lives,' she said.

'Raising awareness of alcohol-related cancer risk, despite the importance of this, will not be sufficient to counter patterns of consumption.'  

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