As the borough gears up for Alcohol Awareness Week, which runs from November 16 – 25, Public Health experts, alcohol and drugs staff and cancer support service staff are working together to spread the message that the less alcohol a person drinks can lower the risk of getting cancer.
Every year alcohol causes 4% of cancers in the UK – around 12,800 cases.
There are seven cancers which alcohol can increase the risk of – bowel, breast, liver, mouth and oesophagus together with larynx and pharynx – both in the throat.
The Million Women Study, which involved 1.3 million women across the UK, showed that the relative risk of breast cancer increases by 7.1% for each 10 grams of alcohol consumed – that’s slightly over a unit of alcohol a day. And other studies have shown that even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of bowel cancer.
In Doncaster, in 2013 there were 669 residents diagnosed with breast or one of the other cancers which can be caused by drinking alcohol.
Councillor Pat Knight, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “Many people don’t realise how much they drink at home or when they go out. Simple steps can make a big difference and these include drinking in moderation at home, only taking a fixed amount of money to spend, setting a limit on how much you’re going to drink and trying to drink smaller sizes. We all like a bargain but bargain buys encourage more drinking so don’t be tempted and keep track of your drinking.”
Andy Collins, of Doncaster’s Public Health team, said: “No type of alcohol is better or worse than another, it is the alcohol itself that leads to the damage whether its wine, beer or spirits. We’re not asking you to stop drinking but to consider what you consume and think about cutting the amount to a healthier level.”
Joanne O’Marr, of Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH), who supports patients with cancer, said: “Why not plan on keeping fitter and healthier for longer. All you have to do is consider drinking less alcohol. Smoking and drinking together also increases your risk of cancer. So it’s worth reducing both. It is worth it in the long run.”
Stuart Green, of RDaSH’s Drugs and Alcohol Service, said “Plan a few alcohol free days and you can greatly reduce the risks especially if you are a smoker by stopping smoking”
Residents can take an online test to see if they need any support to reduce their drinking habits at https://alcoholscreen.org.uk/
There is also a cancer and alcohol awareness session being held at Rosslyn House, Thorne Road, Doncaster, on November 17 starting at 1.30pm. Anyone interested in attending, can just turn up on the day.
Any residents who think they are drinking above the limits and who want help and support to cut their drinking habit should contact either their local GP or Rosslyn House on 01302 730956 for free confidential help.
Anyone who has cancer and would like information or support can contact RDaSH’s Living Well Information Service on 01302 796853.
There is also further information and support www.drughub.co.uk