Binge drinking linked to breast cancer
New Zealand Herald 4:00AM Sunday Oct
A leading surgeon says breast cancer rates could soar unless
young women cut back on binge drinking - and that mammograms are
Dr Trevor Smith said alcohol was among the lifestyle choices
that contributed towards New Zealand's having one of the highest
breast cancer rates in the world.
He called on the Government and breast cancer groups to
"radically change" the way they tackled the illness by focusing on
education rather than treatment.
"Almost all funds are channelled into screening, treatment and
the search for a cure, instead of educating the public that
prevention is your best protection. It's astonishing."
Smith said alcohol had been proven to be carcinogenic and the
risk of breast and other cancers increased with the amount
"One glass of wine a day increases your breast cancer risk by 10
per cent. And I'm talking a small glass - 100ml. Imagine what binge
drinking is doing to [young women's] risk; it's massive."
About 2500 Kiwis are diagnosed with the disease each year.
Smith, who didn't mind being "a bit of a maverick" on the issue,
has detailed his thoughts in a new book, Breast Care.
He told the Herald on Sunday he was critical of the
Ministry of Health because it concentrated on reacting to breast
cancer, rather than empowering women and the 1 per cent of men it
affects, with knowledge.
Smith also said it was a "cop-out" that many in the industry
took money for mammograms without also giving women information on
other ways to reduce the risk.
Mammograms failed to detect 15 per cent of cancerous lumps, he
Smith said World Cancer Research Fund findings released last
November revealed a staggering 30-40 per cent of all cancers could
be "avoided" by lifestyle changes.
He also recommended women had children before their 30th
birthday and breastfed for as long as possible.
Breast Cancer Foundation medical committee chairwoman Dr Belinda
Scott said she believed "enough was being done" in the fight to
prevent breast cancer.
Associate Health Minister Steve Chadwick said the Government had
made heavy investment in prevention and screening programmes.
The Cancer Control Strategy included significant prevention
activities to reduce the incidence of all cancers and addressed
proven risk factors.
Smith's findings were presented to the Breast Cancer Network's
meeting in May and will be in the New Zealand Medical Journal on
Holistic helping hand comforts designer
4:00AM Sunday Oct 12, 2008
Leading Kiwi fashion designer and breast cancer survivor Liz
Mitchell has backed Trevor Smith's holistic approach to helping
fight the disease.
After finding a cancerous lump six years ago, she could find
little local material on the subject so ended up looking elsewhere,
particularly the internet and Dr Susan Love's Breast
Hailed as "the Bible for women with breast cancer",
Love's book advocates combining alternative self-care advice with
"I'm pleased a New Zealand person has got to addressing that
[topic]," Mitchell says. "A lot of people, like oncologists, are so
busy and caught up with their area of expertise so they are not
pushing for some things like that."
Mitchell overcame the disease after three surgeries, including a
mastectomy on Boxing Day 2002, and is now coming to the end of drug
Her healthy lifestyle includes swimming, eating organic foods,
She says she enjoys the occasional glass of wine with
"I was at a
breast cancer conference last year and they said walking and
exercise had the strongest contribution to a positive
She says not everyone would adopt a holistic approach to cancer
prevention and treatment but hopes for wider education on the
"It is better to act early, take responsibility for your
health," she says, warning that finding out you have cancer is
"You think you are going to die, it's such a fearful time...
it's one of those things where a doctor can't tell you if you are
going to survive or not."