Regional health and local authority bodies unite for cancer campaign

The image of a woman drinking a glass of wine, blissfully unaware that a drop spilt on her top is transforming into a cancerous tumour, is at the heart of a new regional campaign launched this week.

One of the images being used in the 'Spot of lunch' campaign
One of the images being used in the 'Spot of lunch' campaign

The 'Spot of lunch' campaign across Yorkshire and the Humber is highlighting the fact that alcohol can increase the risk of at least seven different types of cancer, including breast cancer.

It is being run by the Yorkshire and Humber Alcohol Alliance, which consists of various local authorities and health organisations in the region, including Doncaster, Bradford and Leeds, and is funded by the Association of Directors of Public Health.

Priority points

The core message is that any level of regular drinking increases the risk of developing breast cancer, but reducing drinking can reduce the risks.

Another key message is that people should not exceed the recommended drinking guidelines of 14 units of alcohol per week for both men and women.

The awareness-raising campaign, which is supported by the Breast Cancer Now charity, includes TV and digital advertising as well as social-media activity and traditional media relations.

Local authorities and NHS trusts are supporting the campaign through their own local comms channels.

Addressing awareness

Low levels of awareness of the risks have prompted the month-long campaign, which includes a hard-hitting TV ad in which a woman enjoys a glass of wine unaware that she could be developing cancer.

The campaign has been developed by Balance, an organisation funded by seven local authorities in the region.

It aims to drive web traffic to a dedicated website where people can download a Drink Free Days app.

More than 60 per cent of women in the UK are unaware of the breast cancer risks associated with drinking, according to the Alcohol Health Alliance.

And a study published in the British Medical Journal in June found that just one in five women attending a breast cancer clinic knew that alcohol was a risk factor.

No 'safe level' of drinking

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said: "Like tobacco, alcohol causes cancer, and with breast cancer, evidence is clear there is no ‘safe’ level of drinking."

She added: "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 four 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."

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