A few weeks ago I shot a series of videos about how alcohol increases breast cancer risk.
And aside from being a now retired breast cancer surgeon, I’ve had breast cancer twice, so it’s a subject that’s close to my heart.
In the clips I post on social media, I address a simple fact. If you want to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer, or the risk of a previous breast cancer coming back, cut down on how much you drink.
When alcohol breaks down in the body, it releases a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemical called acetaldehyde. This is usually further broken down into harmless substances, but drinking it consistently and regularly can cause acetaldehyde to build up in the body and damage cells. There is a nature.
Dr Liz O’Riordan, in a photo of her 20s with wine in her hand, believes alcohol may have increased her chances of developing breast cancer at age 40
Dr. O’Riordan, pictured, was diagnosed with the disease in 2015 at the age of 40.
Alcohol consumption also raises levels of several hormones, including estrogen, which causes some types of breast cancer. A glass of wine or a pint (roughly 2 to 3 units of alcohol) each day makes a woman more likely to develop the disease, increasing her risk by 15%.
The risk increases by an additional 10% for each drink per day.
Just because you have breast cancer and have had alcohol in the past doesn’t mean that’s why you developed the disease. . The three main factors are having breasts, getting older, and old bad luck. However, there is strong evidence that alcohol consumption may contribute in important ways.
It’s important to point out that a 15% increased risk does not mean a 15% chance of getting breast cancer. This means that an individual’s risk of developing breast cancer increases by 15% depending on their age and whether they have a history of breast cancer or have breast cancer in their family.
Having followed similar threads on Twitter and Instagram, I knew this would be a difficult topic to talk about. Some people are offended and brand it as “victim blaming”. As if to imply that if women who drink (which many of us do) develop breast cancer, it’s their fault.
I feel like I’m blaming the victim, I really am. After I was diagnosed, friends may say they read that night shifts and stress “caused” breast cancer.
I knew there was no good evidence for these things, so I jumped off the handle. And it hurt even more.
Today, after multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, I am now cancer-free. Treatment ended my surgical career because it affected the movement of my arm.
But now she writes, lectures, and uses social media to raise awareness and share messages about public health.
I think it’s essential for women to know their breast cancer risk, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel.
I often wondered if heavy drinking as a junior doctor had influenced my diagnosis at age 40.
I drank like a fish — and even though alcohol was said to increase cancer risk (it’s also been linked to cancers of the intestine, mouth, throat, and liver), it didn’t sink.
Perhaps I was being naive, or I was deliberately looking the other way. Embarrassingly, when I was in my early 20s, I was so drunk that I couldn’t remember what happened the night before. I was the first student in my grade to be hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. From an otaku, I became an otaku who can drink alcohol.
Like many young women, I think alcohol gave me confidence when I lost confidence in myself trying to build a career as a surgeon in a notoriously male-dominated world.
As I grew up, I became less reckless, but drinking remained a part of my daily routine. birthday? Let’s have a drink. Just chilling out after work? Let’s have a drink…
When my video post about the link between alcohol and cancer went public, the comments were overwhelmingly positive. But, of course, some were upset. I was accused of “ringing alarm bells”. One said if I showed a video of mine to her friend who had breast cancer, “it would just freak her out.”
Another said I should amend what I said to point out that the only risk factor is “excessive” alcohol consumption.
But in reality, there is no safe level of alcohol. Even one unit a day (one spirit or one glass of wine) increases his risk of breast cancer by 5%.
Some people say they are going to unfollow me on social media. Goodbye,” he wrote.
There is no safe level of alcohol. Even one unit a day (one spirit or one glass of wine) increases the risk of breast cancer by 5%.
I followed my post on alcohol with a series of videos on even more inflammatory topics. How obesity increases breast cancer risk and recurrence, especially in postmenopausal women.
Fat cells, also known as adipocytes, produce an enzyme called aromatase that converts circulating testosterone (women also produce this) into estrogen. , which causes several types of breast cancer.
More fat cells mean higher estrogen levels and a higher risk of breast cancer. This seems to be especially true after menopause, when estrogen levels should naturally decline. About 30% higher risk of breast cancer compared to women.
Put another way, in a group of 100 women in a healthy weight range, about 9 are most likely to develop breast cancer over the age of 50. Among a group of 100 obese women, Perhaps 11 or 12 people will develop breast cancer.
Obesity is also associated with an increased risk of breast cancer recurrence by up to 40%.
Again, it doesn’t mean that overweight women have a 40% chance of dying from breast cancer, just a 40% increased risk of recurrence and death.
In a group of 100 women in a healthy weight range, about 9 are most likely to develop breast cancer at age 50 and older. In a group of 100 obese women, about 11 or 12 of them will likely develop breast cancer.
Let’s say you have an 80% chance of being predicted to be still alive 10 years after diagnosis. That means you have a 20% chance of dying from breast cancer in the next 10 years. For overweight, it increases from 20% to 28%. The higher the risk of recurrence, the greater the effects of being overweight.
A recent meta-analysis involving 82 studies involving more than 200,000 patients found that obese patients with estrogen-induced or ER+ breast cancer were less likely to survive than women of healthy weight. I was. This included women who were overweight before diagnosis and women who gained weight after diagnosis.
When I emphasized this, critics pointed out that there is no evidence to suggest weight loss after a breast cancer diagnosis could reverse this effect. It is
It should be emphasized that not all overweight women develop or recur breast cancer. There is likely to be.
This is the question of breast cancer risk. You can know your odds based on good data, but you can’t predict the future.
However, it is true that being overweight increases risk, so it makes sense to try to achieve and maintain a healthier weight, especially after a diagnosis.
At 25, did I hear middle-aged doctors and cancer survivors lecture about the dangers of alcohol?But that’s no reason for me not to publish the information
Additionally, hormone-blocking drugs used to treat breast cancer can cause weight gain in women. I also tend to snack more during chemo to ease the nausea and make me feel more comfortable. I knew that, so I worked hard to lose it.
Again, there was a lot of love for my post on the link between weight and breast cancer. Thank you.” He commented happily. Another said, “Hard to hear, kick me in the ass I needed!”
But, inevitably, there was also quite a bit of blowback. My posts were branded ‘upset’ and ‘triggered’. One woman wrote: [breast cancer survivors] Does it make you sick?
My intention was not to preach or make women feel bad about themselves. For example, obese women are less likely to visit their GP when they find a lump or other undesirable object because they fear being judged for their weight. no one will help.
But I stand by what I said. Facts are facts.
The number of cancers caused by alcohol and obesity is frightening. We need to get better at these difficult conversations. Instead of blaming yourself for things you did in the past when you didn’t have this information, you should use it to make current lifestyle changes where necessary and educate your children.
At 25, did I hear middle-aged doctors and cancer survivors lecture about the dangers of alcohol? But that’s no reason for me not to publish the information.
Today, I’m not totally sober, but I’m barely drinking and in the best shape of my life.
Besides booze, I’ve found something that fills me with confidence. I love working out and lifting weights. I know that being proactive can reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back by up to 50%. So I feel like I’m actively doing something.
I like my job. I make my own clothes I am a dog owner. I volunteer at a hedgehog sanctuary. I discovered outdoor swimming and met a community of women who support and encourage each other.
Yes, it’s hard to look critically at your lifestyle choices when you hear that you may not be living as healthy as you can. I want you to