Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Department Of Health Research Shows Women Are Unaware Of Link Between Alcohol And Breast Cancer Risk

New research from the Department of Health's Know Your Limits campaign reveals that the vast majority of UK women (82%) don't realise alcohol consumption can increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

According to the General Household Survey, around 4 million women drink more than the NHS recommended daily limit of 2-3 units of alcohol, equivalent to one large glass of wine a day (250ml at ABV 12%). [1]

We know that regularly drinking alcohol can slightly increase the risk of developing breast cancer and the risk increases the more you drink. Drinking, on average, one unit of alcohol per day increases a woman's risk of breast cancer by about 6%. This risk increases by a further 6% for each additional unit of alcohol consumed on a daily basis. For example, a woman who drinks two units per day each and every day of her adult life would increase her risk of breast cancer by about 12%. [2]

Unlike many other established breast cancer risk factors, alcohol consumption is something we can change. The important message is for women to be aware of how many units of alcohol they are consuming and to drink in moderation.

Dr Sarah Cant, Policy Manager at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said:

"Drinking moderate or high levels of any type of alcoholic drink has many health consequences, including an increased chance of developing breast cancer.

"Although many factors might affect our risk of getting breast cancer, limiting how much we drink is one thing we can do to try to reduce that risk - it's never too late to change your drinking habits."

Drinking alcohol is one of the few identified risk factors for developing breast cancer. We don't yet know all the causes of the disease but it's thought to be a combination of hormonal, genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. For most women, the biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer is increasing age.

The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment. It's important for all women to be breast aware and to attend NHS Breast Screening appointments if they are over 50.

More information about breast cancer risk factors can be found here

To find out more about the Know Your Limits campaign visit http://www.units.nhs.uk

[1] The 'around 4 million' figure is based on 21,119,500 women aged 16 and over in England (ONS 2006 population estimates). General Household Survey data shows that in 2006, 20% of English women drank more than 14 units in the week (using the new methodology). Using this, the Know Your Limits campaign estimates that 4,223,900 women aged 16 or over exceeded the 14 units in 2006.

[2] These figures are estimates and reflect the incidence of breast cancer in the UK population and the size of alcoholic units in the UK.


- For more information about the established, possible and doubtful risk factors for breast cancer, Breakthrough Breast Cancer has published the BMA award-winning booklet, Breast Cancer Risk Factors: The Facts. Copies can be obtained by calling the Breakthrough Information Line on 08080 100 200 or can be downloaded here

- At the moment we don't have enough information or the means to prevent breast cancer. That's why Breakthrough Breast Cancer has launched the Breakthrough Generations Study, in partnership with The Institute of Cancer Research. This is the largest, most comprehensive investigation into the causes of breast cancer in the UK. Involving 100,000 women over the next 40 years, the study aims to provide the most detailed information yet on what causes breast cancer and as a result, give an understanding of how the disease can be prevented in the first place. If you would like more information about the Breakthrough Generations Study, please visit http://www.breakthroughgenerations.org.uk.

Rachel Pilkington
Assistant PR Officer

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Excess Drinking Shrinks the Brain

The more alcohol you drink, the more your brain shrinks, a new study has found.

"The take-home message is that, if you drink a lot, you're going to hurt your brain," said Rajesh Miranda, an associate professor of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. "This is something we knew, but this is a huge study that quantifies that."

"It's not surprising that alcohol would cause shrinkage of the brain. That kind of thing has been observed in animal models and smaller studies," Miranda added. "The surprising thing is that they 1/8the study authors 3/8 showed that even low levels of drinking are not protective, as people had seen in other cases."

The findings are published in the October issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Brain volume decreases naturally as people age, at a rate of about 1.9 per cent per decade. At the same time, the brain acquires white matter lesions as it gets older. Both of these changes also accompany dementia and cognitive decline, according to background information in the study.

Moderate levels of alcohol consumption have been linked with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, leading researchers to hypothesize that restrained tippling might also slow declines in brain volume. Previous studies have also found that drinking alcohol in moderation is associated with improved cognitive function and a decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease.

For the new study, led by Carol Ann Paul, of Wellesley College in Massachusetts, researchers conducted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and health exams on 1,839 adults (average age 60) participating in the Framingham Offspring Study between 1999 and 2001. None of the participants had evidence of clinical dementia or had suffered a stroke.

The men and women were asked how much alcohol they drank each week, then were classified as abstainers, former drinkers, or low (one to seven drinks per week), moderate (eight to 14 drinks per week) or high consumers of alcohol (more than 14 drinks a week).

Most participants (almost 38 per cent of men and more than 44 per cent of women) fell into the "low-consumption" category. Men were more likely than women to report being moderate or heavy drinkers.

Alcohol had no protective affect on the normal, age-related shrinkage in brain volume, the researchers found.

To the contrary, the more a person drank, the more their brain volume diminished. This relationship was somewhat more pronounced in women, although women tended to be lighter drinkers.

The gender difference could be explained by biological factors, namely that alcohol is absorbed faster in women and they tend to feel the effects of alcohol more than men, the researchers said.

More information

The http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/dementia.html U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on dementia.

SOURCES: Rajesh Miranda, Ph.D., associate professor, neuroscience and experimental therapeutics, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine; October 2008 Archives of Neurology
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Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Drunkenness, in its most common usage, is the state of being intoxicated by consumption of ethyl alcohol to a degree that mental and physical facilities are noticeably impaired. Common symptoms may include slurred speech, impaired balance, poor coordination, flushed face, reddened eyes and uncharacteristic behavior..

For more information about the topic Drunkenness, read the full article at Wikipedia.org, or see the following related articles:
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