The campaign by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, aims to raise awareness that even relatively low levels of drinking alcohol can increase the risk of cancer and comes at a time when public awareness of the links between alcohol and cancer remain low.

Jan, aged 58, from Wallsend, North Tyneside, is the fourth member of her family to be diagnosed with breast cancer, and saw her mum and sister battle develop the disease before being diagnosed herself in 2012. Following intensive treatment, Jan currently has no signs of the disease.

Jan is an active fundraiser for Breast Cancer Now through her group Pink on the Tyne, and has also previously run the London Marathon and Great North Run in aid of breast cancer charities. As well as raising money and awareness, Jan has vowed to make the most of every opportunity and look after her health in every way she can, including cutting out alcohol.

Prior to diagnosis, Jan was a light, social drinker who would enjoy the occasional drink with friends, but since her diagnosis she has given up altogether.

Jan said:

“At the time I was diagnosed, I didn’t know about the links between alcohol and breast cancer, but before I started my chemotherapy I knew I wanted to give my body the best possible chance and, for me, that meant giving up alcohol altogether.

“Even though I think that my breast cancer is genetic, I don’t ever even want to have one drink. Knowing what I know, I just don’t want to take the risk. If the cancer comes back, I want to be able to say to myself that I’ve done the very best I can to safeguard my health.

“That’s why this Balance campaign is so important. It struck a chord with me as it’s not about telling women to never drink again, it’s about making people aware of this link between alcohol and cancer and providing them with the information so they can make the decision that’s right for them and their health.

“If just one person survives because of me speaking out about what I’ve been through, then everything will have been worth it.”

Eluned Hughes, Head of Public Health and Information at Breast Cancer Now said:

"We’ve known for some time that regularly drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing breast cancer, so it's important that women are aware that unfortunately there is no ‘safe’ alcohol limit when it comes to increasing one’s cancer risk.

“While you cannot change some factors that affect your breast cancer risk, such as getting older and family history of the disease, drinking alcohol is a factor you really can do something about.

“It can be difficult to change your lifestyle, but there are some simple ways to make it easier to cut down drinking; limiting the amount of alcohol you drink on any one occasion, drinking more slowly, drinking with food, alternating alcoholic drinks with water and having alcohol free days.”

 

More information

Read our blog: Alcohol and breast cancer – how much is too much?

Read more information about alcohol and breast cancer risk, or download our alcohol factsheet