(HealthDay News) — Women have poor awareness of alcohol’s role in breast cancer risk, according to a study published online June 17 in BMJ Open.

Julia Sinclair, M.B., B.S., from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assessed knowledge and attitudes toward alcohol as a risk factor for breast cancer and potential challenges inherent in incorporating advice about alcohol health risks into breast clinics and screening appointments. The analysis included 102 women attending the NHS Breast Screening Programme, 103 attending symptomatic breast clinics, and 33 NHS staff.

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The researchers found that 19.5 percent of patients and 48.5 percent of staff identified alcohol as a breast cancer risk. Two-thirds of patients (66.5 percent) reported they drank alcohol, while just over half (56.6 percent) could not estimate correctly the alcohol content of any of four commonly consumed alcoholic drinks. Women unanimously agreed that including a prevention-focused intervention would not reduce the likelihood of their attendance at screening mammograms or breast clinics. Both patients and staff expressed concern regarding how to talk about alcohol and risk factors for breast cancer in a nonstigmatizing way. Specialty staff expressed ambivalence as to their role in health promotion.

“Adding prevention interventions to screening and/or symptomatic clinics appears acceptable to attendees,” the authors write. “However, there are
substantial cultural and systemic challenges to overcome if this is to be implemented successfully.”

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