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Alcohol use and breast cancer risk: A qualitative study of women's perspectives to inform the development of a preventative intervention in breast clinics

Sophia E Chambers, Ellen R Copson, Peter F Dutey-Magni, Caspian Priest, Annie S Anderson, Julia M A Sinclair
European Journal of Cancer Care 2019 April 30, : e13075

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to explore women's views about breast cancer risk and alcohol use, to inform the design of a prototype for an intervention in breast clinics about alcohol as a modifiable risk factor for breast cancer.

METHODS: Women recruited in NHS breast screening and symptomatic clinics in Southampton, UK, were invited to take part in semi-structured telephone interviews or a focus group to discuss their perspectives of breast cancer risk, alcohol consumption and their information needs about these topics. Data were analysed thematically. Twenty-eight women took part in telephone interviews, and 16 attended one of three focus groups.

RESULTS: While most women reported a personal responsibility for their health and were interested in advice about modifiable risk factors, few without (or prior to) experience of breast symptoms independently sought information. Many considered alcohol advice irrelevant as the association with breast cancer was largely unknown, and participants did not consider their drinking to be problematic. Women reported trusting information from health organisations like the NHS, but advice needs to be sensitive and non-blaming.

CONCLUSION: NHS breast screening and symptomatic clinics offer a "teachable moment" to engage women with context-specific advice about alcohol and cancer risk that, if targeted correctly, may assist them in making informed lifestyle choices.


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