Breast cancer is something that can affect us all. It is the third most diagnosed form of cancer in Ireland overall, and the second most diagnosed cancer for women. We are spending this Breast Cancer Awareness Month raising awareness about the HSE low-risk weekly alcohol guidelines and how knowing these guidelines can help you protect your health. Only 2-3% of adults in Ireland are aware of the guidelines. This lack of awareness is a barrier for both women and men in protecting themselves from breast cancer. How can we decrease our risk if we don’t know what the guidelines are?
What are the guidelines?
There is no sure way of preventing breast cancer, but alcohol is a modifiable risk factor for at least seven types of cancer This means that alcohol is a risk factor you can do something about.
The first small yet significant step you can take is learning about the HSE low-risk weekly guidelines. Over a period of 7 days, we all should have at least two alcohol free days. Women should consume less than 11 standard drinks spread throughout the week, and men should consume less than 17 standard drinks throughout the week.
The next is to learn what a standard drink is so you can understand the guidelines. A standard drink is a measure of alcohol that contains 10 grams of pure alcohol. For example, a standard drink is a half pint of 4.5% larger or a 100ml glass of 12.5% wine.
The 2016 Healthy Ireland survey found that 27% of women are aware that they are at increased risk of developing breast cancer as a result of heavy drinking and only 16% of women aged 15 to 24 are aware of this risk. Understanding and following the HSE low-risk guidelines can help you protect your health.
For many of us, learning what the guidelines are and what a standard drink is, can be suprising. You might want to rethink your current habits and we’re here to help:
We have plenty of tips to reduce drinking, but here are our top tips this Breast Cancer Awareness Month:
- Try our drinks calculator. Using our drinks calculator lets you know how many standard drinks you have in a week. Try it out and be informed about your own drinking.
- Order our measuring cup. Now you know how many standard drinks you have a week. Maybe you want to reduce that, or just keep an eye on it. Using our measuring cups instead of free pouring will help you keep track of how many standard drinks are having.
- Order smaller drinks. You might not be able to use our measuring cup when out and about, so try ordering smaller drinks to keep on track of your goal.
- Buy non-alcoholic drinks. Lots of popular favourites now have alcohol free versions, and many bars have ‘mocktails’. It is easier than ever to enjoy the taste of your favourite drinks without also drinking alcohol.
- Practise mindful drinking. Mindful drinking is the act of being aware of how alcohol impacts us; our moods, our bodies. Sometimes we drink without noticing how we are feeling, emotionally and physically. Being more in tune with how we are feeling can potentially stop us binge drinking.
If you need information on how to spot breast cancer or are interested in other ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer, you can learn more at the Marie Keating website.