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Booze is bad for your boobs

May 3, 2013
Breast cancer is on the increase among younger women

Breast cancer is on the increase among younger women

Going to the nurse for my 6-monthly checkup is always an ordeal for me. You know that behind her smiley demeanour, lie those questions I have come to dread:

–       Are you aware that the pill increases your likelihood of the following? Weight gain, migraines, blood clots, deep vain thrombosis, cancer. Yes, but thanks for reminding me.

–       Do you exercise enough? Does walking rather standing on the escalator count?

–       Do you know the pill is not 100 per cent safe and you should always take other precautions? WHAT???

–       Do you smoke? No (momentary feeling of smugness before the worst question…)

–       How many units of alcohol do you drink?

Oh God. As I wrack my brain for a figure that won’t make her gasp, I innocently ask her to remind me what the weekly recommendation is.  “Still 14 units is it? Ah, probably a little over that on an average Friday night. Perhaps.” After the first jaeger bomb you tend to stop counting. Then comes the lecture about the health warnings and I have another few weeks of worrying about my liver… until the next party.

But aside from the calories, mood swings, and sleep deficiency, figures released this week have given me one more reason to worry.

According to a report from Cancer Research UK, breast cancer for women under 50 is at a record high, and heavier drinking is partly to blame. Doctors have identified 10,068 new cases of breast cancer among under-50s in Britain in 2010, an 11 per cent rise since 1995. Other factors such as having children later and taking the pill (great) have also been cited. However, it is drinkers, particularly binge drinkers, are most at risk.

Obviously according to the Daily Mail, everything from burnt toast to drinking from plastic bottles is carcinogenic but these are scary statistics, nonetheless. Particularly scary after 3 years at university and a lot of Friday (and Saturday) nights since.

I probably need to give my breasts a break. But how?

1. Without meaning to state the obvious, drink less.

The NHS Choices website have some good tips on how to cut down such as drinking a pint of water before you start drinking to quench your thirst.

2. Eat healthily

There is evidence that a high fat content in your diet increases your risk of breast cancer. Obesity is also a factor. According to the Daily Mail (I know, but I had to put it in there) “Animal studies have shown that reducing calorie intake by 30 per cent can lead to an 80 – 90 per cent reduction in the risk of breast tumours.”

3. Exercise

It’s been claimed that exercising can reduce your chances of getting breast cancer by a third. It also makes you look good. I am really dishing out my pearls of wisdom today. See the NHS Choices weight loss page for some tips.

4. Breastfeed

I am certainly not at this stage yet but a good tip for the future.

5. Check your boobs

Give ‘em a good fondle. Or as they recommend on Embarrassing Bodies, a bit of TLC….

TOUCH your breasts. Can you feel anything unusual?

LOOK for changes. Is there any change in shape or texture?

CHECK anything unusual with your doctor.

6. Chill out

A UK survey in 1995 said that women who were stressed were 50% more likely to have breast cancer. Just perhaps try and relax without that glass of wine this time.

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