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Breast cancer in Italy: Alarming increase due to alcohol

15.11.2023 - The Italian Association of Medical Oncology (AIOM) at its XXV National Congress in Rome has highlighted a critical health issue: the significant impact of alcohol consumption on breast cancer cases in Italy. Alarmingly, about 23% of breast cancer cases in Italy are linked to avoidable lifestyle choices, including smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity, with excessive alcohol use being a particularly concerning factor. Annually, alcohol consumption is responsible for up to 11% of new breast cancer diagnoses, amounting to over 6,000 cases in the country.

Women are at a higher risk due to their lower levels of Alcohol Dehydrogenase (ADH), an enzyme crucial for metabolizing ethanol. This reduced capacity to process alcohol leads to a heightened risk of breast cancer, especially when combined with other risk factors such as smoking. In Italy, lifestyle statistics are troubling: 36.9% of women lead a sedentary life, 26.8% are overweight, 11.1% are obese, 15.3% smoke, and 8.7% consume alcohol at health-risk levels.

President Saverio Cinieri of AIOM emphasizes the urgent need to improve women's awareness about the severe health risks associated with alcohol abuse. The AIOM's national campaign focuses on promoting healthy lifestyles to reduce the incidence and mortality of breast cancer, with particular attention to modifiable risk factors such as alcohol consumption.

The importance of early detection and lifestyle changes post-diagnosis is also stressed. Adhering to healthy lifestyle recommendations can significantly reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. AIOM's prevention initiatives include promoting self-examination and improving participation in mammographic screenings across Italy.

In the past fifty years, Italy has seen remarkable progress in breast cancer treatment, with survival rates increasing from 30% to nearly 90%. This achievement is a testament to advancements in medical oncology and early diagnosis. AIOM, in collaboration with AstraZeneca, is committed to continuing its efforts in breast cancer research and treatment, aiming to eliminate breast cancer as a cause of death. This joint effort involves promoting early detection and developing new treatment standards, ensuring a hopeful future in the battle against breast cancer.

Source: AIOM

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