Thursday 9 November 2017

Booze in the News

Right now is a really good time to be ditching the booze, because pretty much every single week there are articles in the press about the dangers of drinking and how more and more people (especially the young) are walking away from alcohol.

Today's big news - reported widely in the USA (thank you to the wonderful NorthWoman for alerting me), is that the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has, for the first time, put out an official warning on the link between alcohol and cancer.

Dr Noelle LoConte, author of the report, says "ASCO joins a growing number of cancer care and public health organisations in recognising that even moderate alcohol use can cause cancer."

According to ASCO, drinking alcohol is linked to SEVEN types of cancer: oesophageal, mouth, liver, colon and breast cancers.

It is, they say, the direct cause of 5.5% of all cancers globally.

It is also probable, they warn, that alcohol is a causal factor in pancreatic, stomach and other cancers.

The more you drink, the higher your risk.

Yet two-thirds of Americans surveyed said they had no idea that alcohol has any link to cancer. I'm sure the same is true in the UK.

None of this is terribly surprising to me, as I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, after two decades of drinking rather a lot more than I should have.

I had a relatively uncommon form of breast cancer - lobular - which has a particularly significant link to alcohol consumption.

Yet, whilst every single medical professional I came across during my initial diagnosis asked if I smoked (which I didn't), only one asked me if I drank.

(I am very sure about this as I was desperate to be asked how many units I drank each week so I could reply "Zero. Zilch. Nada. Not a drop." Before confessing to past misdemeanours...)

Also, not one single person told me to stop drinking alcohol, or cut down, during or after cancer treatment. Quite the reverse. I was constantly being urged to "go and pour yourself a large gin and tonic."

It's not so very long since doctors would recommend their patients smoke tobacco to ease a chesty cough.

Alcohol is, I suspect, the new tobacco...

Also in the news this week, a report by the Office for National Statistics showing that the baby-boomer generation are increasingly dying from alcohol abuse as decades of overly-enthusiastic drinking starts to catch up with them.

Since 2001, the likelihood of women aged 60-64 dying as a direct result of alcohol has increased by 35% (this does NOT include those dying of cancers which may have been attributable to alcohol consumption).

But there is GOOD NEWS! If you reduce the amount you drink or, even better, stop altogether, all your risk factors go down. WHOOP WHOOP.

So hurrah for me, and hurrah for all of you.

New on the SoberMummy Facebook page this week: a post I've written about wine bellies and the most fascinating TED talk by Ann Dowsett Johnston, the author of DRINK - The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol.

Click here to go to the Facebook page, 'like' to stay updated.

Love to you all,

SM x


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  2. Hmmm....I was lobular as well...I always wondered if I gave it to myself! Maybe I did! It's funny, or not, because I was honest )well, sort of) wth my oncologist about my drinking and she kept telling me not to worry about that...worry about keeping my weight low as my cancer was estrogen driven and many cancers are due to too much estrogen, which gets stored in fat cells. I was thin when I was diagnosed. So, I most likely drank myself to breast cancer! Yikes!

    1. Did you know that alcohol raises the amount of estrogen in the body - that’s why there’s an especially strong link with breast cancer... No point blaming yourself - instead, feel JOLLY PROUD that you don’t drink any more and are therefore keeping your estrogen levels down.... huge hugs, fellow survivor!

  3. I had no idea there was such a strong link. Thats not great at all. I am overweight and have drank too much for many years. This is a bit of a wake up call.

  4. Yeah I can comment again!!!

    Gosh very scary statistics and I’ve never been aware that there was is such a strong link. Cancer really scares me and to think I was putting myself at a higher risk, scares me even more! Hopefully I am undoing any damage done now by being alcohol free xxxxxx

  5. Really good to know this...interesting that the link isn't more widely publicised.