Stephanie discovered she has breast cancer. There was no family history of breast cancer, nor was she overweight. She thought she was doing all the right things. Breastfeeding her children, a good diet, regular exercise. At 47 and a successful journalist she was very curious to know. Why her?
It’s impossible to know for a single person
Stephanie soon discovered it’s impossible to know exactly what caused her breast cancer. She says it’s like trying to prove that a single weather event was caused by climate change.
One doctor told her
“You know who’s at risk for getting breast cancer? People with breasts!”
(Yes, men do get breast cancer too!)
Most of the health risks did not apply to Stephanie
Stephanie even used BPA free bottles for her filtered water. She had regular medical checks with the Doctor. The only warning given was not to put cream into her coffee in case it blocked her arteries. (the link between these is now discredited though)
She was a social drinker
Stephanie has always put down her drinking on her medical forms. But no one ever said anything other than nod approval that she drank socially. She’s not a heavy drinker, but like most women she knew she had drank a lot of alcohol in her lifetime.
Alcohol causes cancer
Stephanie quickly learned that whether it’s in Everclear or a vintage Bordeaux, alcohol causes cancer. It is carcinogenic. She discovered that in 1988 the World Health Organisation declared alcohol a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning it’s been proved to cause cancer. There is no known safe dosage in humans, according to the WHO. Alcohol causes at least seven types of cancer, but it kills more women from breast cancer than from any other. The International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates that for every drink consumed daily, the risk of breast cancer goes up 7 percent.
Stephanie is shocked
As a journalist Stephanie is pretty shocked. She always stayed up to date on health news. She’d written articles or read articles on everything that could possibly cause cancer. She believed (incorrectly) red wine protected her heart. She discovered there was a good reason for her ignorance.
Malign Alcohol industry influence
Seeing what happened to the tobacco industry, big alcohol worked hard to brand alcohol as part of a healthy lifestyle. The only people who were harmed by alcohol were those who drank too much. They’ve encouraged the stigma of being an “alcoholic”- a person who can’t control their drinking.
Us “nice normal drinkers” can’t be harmed by alcohol. People who drink moderately or don’t fall down blind drunk are not at risk.
Big alcohol funded research centres who produced flawed research and TV documentaries making claims about alcohol being healthy which have been disproved. (Stephanie goes through this in detail here)
Stephanie’s doctors did not her warn about alcohol risks
After she had surgery Stephanie went to see the dietician recommended by the cancer specialist. The dietician went through all the foods and drinks Stephanie should avoid. Cream in her coffee, eat more vegetables, and avoid processed foods. Not once did the dietician tell her to avoid alcohol. Neither did any of her doctors!
Preventing breast cancer
Drinking less means you reduce one of the key risks for breast cancer. The less you drink the more you reduce your risk.
There are however many risk factors for breast cancer. You can find out more here here
Just this week, the leading Lancet Journal in a review of 83 studies reported that drinking more than one bottle of wine per week increases health risk. Most countries recommendations for low risk drinking are actually higher than this!
Your doctor may not tell you!
So your doctor may have told you your drinking is fine or has not mentioned your drinking. But that does not mean you should ignore what you are drinking. You are simply not getting the most up to date picture. My own GP told me, GP’s simply don’t have the time to talk to patients about drinking, when they come in with another problem. The only time he discusses alcohol risks is when a patient comes in and looks for help with their drinking.
This blog post is based on Stephanie Mencimer’s article in Mother Jones. The full article is well worthwhile reading. You’ll be appalled at how little is being done to protect people from alcohol harm. Click here to go to the article
If you’d like some quick tips on reducing alcohol harm, click here.