Published on: Thursday 5th September 2019

A new ‘Spot of Lunch’ campaign has been launched across West Yorkshire and Harrogate, highlighting alcohol as a cause of breast cancer, as figures show more than 60% of UK women are unaware of breast cancer risks associated with alcohol.

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance is supporting 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.

Alcohol increases the risk of at least seven different types of cancer, including bowel, mouth, liver and breast cancer, and 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.

Rates of alcohol-related breast cancer are higher across Yorkshire and the Humber when compared to the average for England. People across the region are being encouraged to visit the campaign website at for facts and myths, real stories and tips to reduce drinking, including taking more drink free days with the One You Drink Free Days app.

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance is one of 19 around the country. It brings together NHS organisations; local councils; charities; community and voluntary organisations and groups; patients and others affected by cancer in a partnership to design and deliver the transformation of services and care; to reduce variations in the availability of good care and treatment; to deliver ongoing improvements in the future; to pilot innovative approaches and to share best practice.

Professor Sean Duffy, Clinical Lead with the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance, said:

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. There are some risk factors you can’t change, like ageing and family history, but 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.”

Rebecca Jowett is the Programme Manager for the Cancer Alliance Healthy Communities work, which includes improvements in screening uptake and a focus on cancer prevention.

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

“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 a risk women have a right to know about. It’s only by making people more aware that they can make informed choices.”

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


Notes to Editors

  • Further information regarding the statistics in this release can be found:

How we Drink, What we Think Report, Alcohol Health Alliance UK