Research news

Women mostly unaware of alcohol risk for breast cancer

Study highlighted need for culture change so risk posed by alcohol for breast cancer is accepted
Picture shows an older woman having a mammography scan. Alcohol use is estimated to be responsible for 5% to 11% of breast cancer cases and current evidence suggests that it is a risk factor for all age groups.

A UK study has revealed that women generally have a poor level of knowledge of the risk of breast cancer posed by consuming alcohol

Women's awareness of alcohol as a risk factor for breast cancer can be poor, according to a UK study.

Alcohol use is estimated to be responsible for 5-11% of breast cancer cases, with current evidence suggesting it is a risk factor for all age groups, the authors said.

But only one in five women attending NHS breast services correctly identified alcohol as a risk factor for breast cancer, the study showed.

Using a mixed method study design, researchers collected quantitative data from a cross-sectional survey and qualitative data from focus group and

...

A UK study has revealed that women generally have a poor level of knowledge of the risk of breast cancer posed by consuming alcohol

Picture shows an older woman having a mammography scan. Alcohol use is estimated to be responsible for 5% to 11% of breast cancer cases and current evidence suggests that it is a risk factor for all age groups.
Picture: iStock

Women's awareness of alcohol as a risk factor for breast cancer can be poor, according to a UK study.

Alcohol use is estimated to be responsible for 5-11% of breast cancer cases, with current evidence suggesting it is a risk factor for all age groups, the authors said.

But only one in five women attending NHS breast services correctly identified alcohol as a risk factor for breast cancer, the study showed.

Using a mixed method study design, researchers collected quantitative data from a cross-sectional survey and qualitative data from focus group and semi-structured telephone interviews of patients attending breast services in Southampton between January and July 2015.

Need seen for a cultural change

Some 238 people participated in the survey – 102 women attending breast screening mammography, 103 attending symptomatic breast clinics and 33 breast unit staff.

Only 40 out of the 205 women attending services identified alcohol consumption as a breast cancer risk factor (20%) compared with 17 out of the 33 staff (52%).

Two thirds of the sample drank alcohol, but only just over half of the sample indicated they knew how to estimate the alcohol content of commonly consumed drinks.

Both staff and the women attending services recognised there must be a wider cultural change before the need to acknowledge and act on the risk posed by alcohol for breast cancer is fully accepted.

The authors suggest that the opportunities for education in such care settings are acceptable and appropriate.


Reference

Sinclair J, McCann M, Sheldon E et al (2019) The acceptability of addressing alcohol consumption as a modifiable risk factor for breast cancer: a mixed method study within breast screening services and symptomatic breast clinics BMJ Open. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-027371


Compiled by Dion Smyth, lecturer-practitioner in cancer and palliative care at Birmingham City University

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to cancernursingpractice.com
  • Bi-monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs