Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board

New ‘Spot of Lunch’ campaign launches in Leeds

A new ‘Spot of Lunch’ campaign launches in Leeds highlighting alcohol as a cause of breast cancer, with research showing more than 60% of UK women are unaware of breast cancer risks associated with alcohol.

Leeds City Council launches the campaign in partnership with the Yorkshire and the Humber Alcohol Alliance across TV, online and Facebook in a bid to help women make more informed choices on their alcohol consumption.

Latest figures show one in seven UK females will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and nearly a quarter of cases (23%) are preventable. Any level of regular drinking increases the risks with estimates showing that drinking two units a day causes one extra woman out of every 50 to develop breast cancer. Rates of alcohol-related breast cancer are higher across Yorkshire and the Humber when compared to the average for England.

People in Leeds are being encouraged to visit www.reducemyrisk.tv for facts, real stories and tips to reduce drinking, including taking more drink-free days with the One You Drink Free Days app.

Dr Ian Cameron, Director of Public Health at Leeds City Council said:

“As was clearly highlighted in the most recent Director of Public Health annual report for Leeds, a worrying picture has started to emerge in Leeds in recent years, with more women dying because of their alcohol use.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. While you can’t change some risk factors like ageing and family history, you can reduce the risk by changing and limiting alcohol intake. The evidence is clear that the risk of developing breast cancer increases the more we regularly drink and alcohol content and frequency of drinking are contributing factors too. It’s easy to underestimate the number of units in alcoholic drinks –a large glass of wine can easily contain at least three units.

“A really good way to reduce drinking too often and too much is to try and have some drink-free days each week. This gives your body a chance to recover and stops drinking becoming part of the daily routine. It can also help you save money and lose weight too.”

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board said:

“Like tobacco, alcohol causes cancer and with breast cancer, the evidence is clear there is no ‘safe’ level of drinking. Even relatively low levels of regular alcohol consumption can increase the risk.

“Alcohol is embedded in our culture– we now live in an age of ‘wine o’clock’ messaging on social media and prosecco T-shirts, door signs and cushion covers. It might seem like harmless fun but this sweeps under the carpet the risk to health. The fact that fewer than 4 in 10 UK women are aware of this link is a concern.

“This is not about scaremongering but raising awareness of risk women to have a right to know about. It’s only by making people more aware that they can make informed choices.”

Dr Bhavani Rengabashyam, Consultant Radiologist and Breast Multidisciplinary Team Lead Clinician at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said:

“Alcohol increases the risk of at least seven different types of cancer, including bowel, mouth, liver and breast cancer. It is in the same cancer-causing category as tobacco and asbestos.

“There are a number of ways alcohol can cause cancer, but alcohol can increase the levels of certain hormones in the body, including oestrogen. High levels of oestrogen can fuel the development of breast cancer.

“Although age and family history are the biggest risk factors, drinking over the recommended levels will significantly raise the risks. Thankfully breast cancer survival is improving and has doubled in the last 40 years in the UK but we simply can’t ignore the rising rates of diagnosis, including more women under 50.”

Featuring a thought-provoking ‘Spot of Lunch’ TV advert, the four-week campaign aims to further increase awareness, helping people in the Yorkshire and the Humber keep their risks low by encouraging them to drink within the recommended guidelines of 14 units of alcohol per week for both men and women. The campaign film shows a woman enjoying lunch and a glass of wine with her partner when she spills some of the drink on her top. The stain changes to show a growing tumour on her breast to highlight alcohol as a cause of breast cancer.

For further information on the campaign go to www.reducemyrisk.tv