What you don’t know about breast cancer and alcohol can hurt you.
Most Americans believe that “moderate” drinking (think 1 drink a day for women or 7 drinks a week) is “safe”, and many Americans believe that red wine is good for you.
While most people know that you shouldn’t drink and drive or drink while pregnant, a recent study found that only 34% of the general population knew that alcohol is a risk factor for cancer.
Compare that to the 78% of Americans who correctly state that smoking tobacco is a risk factor for cancer and the 66% who state that major sun exposure is a cancer risk factor.
Even more shocking is the fact that 10% of respondents believed that wine actually decreases your cancer risk.
It’s no surprise we would believe that based on the media and marketing that has been pushed out by alcohol companies.
Despite a growing body of medical research showing that alcohol consumption is linked not only to liver disease, but also to heart disease and seven kinds of cancer, the alcohol industry has lobbied for years against providing their customers clear information on the risks of drinking.
Their success is obvious in the fact that the warning labels on alcoholic beverages in the US are tiny, hidden and have not changed in the last 35 years.
Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I sat down with Stacey Devine, MD, a triple board certified physician in family, integrative and lifestyle medicine who has worked with many breast cancer survivors in her private practice and understands the impact of their treatments on their physical and emotional health.
Stacey believes that more awareness around the link between alcohol and breast cancer can change behavior and save lives.
She created an online course, Thriving After Breast Cancer®, to help breast cancer survivors heal from their treatments, reduce their risk of recurrence, and empower them to thrive. Stacey’s work is based on the idea that integrative oncology and lifestyle medicine should be a standard part of survivorship care.
Knowledge is power so here’s the information you need to know about breast cancer and alcohol
- There is no safe level of alcohol consumption.
The risk of breast cancer increases with each unit of alcohol consumed per day with as few as 3 drinks a week raising your risk of breast cancer by 15%
Every additional alcoholic drink consumed weekly over 3 increases your risk of breast cancer by another 10%
- Women in the U.S. have a 1 in 8 (or about 13%) lifetime risk of getting breast cancer
- Only about 5-10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary. 85% of breast cancer cases occur in women with no family history of the disease
- It doesn’t matter what type of alcohol you consume. Any kind of alcohol — wine, beer, or liquor — has been consistently linked to an increased risk of cancer
- Red wine isn’t “healthy”, it’s a known carcinogen
Drinking one bottle of wine is the equivalent cancer risk as smoking ten cigarettes
- Avoiding or cutting back on alcohol is an important way women can lower their risk of breast cancer
- Doctors believe that warning labels on wine, beer and liquor need to be updated to more precisely state the cancer risks associated with drinking
- Recent data shows that about 12-13% of new cancer diagnoses in North America are related to drinking alcohol
- In addition to breast cancer alcohol use has been linked with cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, stomach, liver, colon and rectum
- Alcohol use is also linked to heart disease, liver disease and mental health disorders
- The CDC attributes 1 in 10 deaths of adults ages 20-64 to heavy drinking
In this episode, Stacey and I discuss:
The information you need to know about breast cancer and alcohol
- 3 myths most people believe about breast cancer
Why understanding the risk of breast cancer and alcohol consumption can help you make more informed choices about your health
- How we have been misled by the standard advice that “everything should be consumed in moderation”
- Steps you can take today to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer
- New alcohol warning labels in Ireland and the panic within the wine industry about the precedent
- How to understand your breast cancer risk with tools like the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool (BCRAT)
- What to know about breast density and how to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors
- How to help breast cancer survivors thrive
Resources Mentioned In the Episode:
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Connect with Stacey Devine, MD
Stacey Devine, MD, is a triple board certified physician in family, integrative and lifestyle since 2000. While she loved seeing people and treating diverse conditions, she became tired of surface-level disease management. She longed to spend more time with her patients and go deeper into the root cause of their illnesses.
She also wanted to focus on disease prevention and holistic health and wellness. This led Dr. Devine to pursue fellowship training at the University of Arizona Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine and board certification in Lifestyle Medicine. She has a solo practice in Davidson, NC, and helps people reverse and prevent chronic disease with lifestyle management and more natural treatment options.
She has worked with many breast cancer survivors in her private practice and understands the impact of their treatments on their physical and emotional health. Integrative oncology and lifestyle medicine have a tremendous impact on their quality of life and she believes it should be a standard part of survivorship care. She created an online course, Thriving After Breast Cancer®, to help breast cancer survivors heal from their treatments, reduce their risk of recurrence, and empower them to thrive.
Follow Stacey on Instagram @staceydevinemd
Get Stacey’s 3 Strategies To Help Breast Cancer Thrivers
Connect with Casey
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READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
What You Need To Know About Breast Cancer + Alcohol with Stacey Devine, MD
breast cancer, alcohol, talk, cancer, drink, women, risk, red wine, studies, people, change, wine, self-breast exam, good, diagnosed, treatment, reduce, thriving, love, vegetables
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Stacey Devine, MD
Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.
In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.
Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a buzz, how to sit with your emotions when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.
Hi there. Today, we are talking about
what you need to know about breast cancer and alcohol.
My guest today is Stacey Devine, MD. She’s a triple board certified physician in family integrative and lifestyle medicine since 2000. While she loves seeing people treating diverse conditions, she became tired of surface level disease management and longed to spend more time with her patients and go deeper into the root cause of their illnesses. She also wanted to focus on disease prevention and holistic health and wellness.
Stacey has worked with many breast cancer survivors in her private practice and understands the impact of their treatments on their physical and emotional health.
Integrative oncology and lifestyle medicine have a tremendous impact on their quality of life. And Stacey believes they should be part of standard care in survivorship. She created an online course, Thriving After Breast Cancer®, to help breast cancer survivors heal from their treatments, reduce their risk of reoccurrence, and empower them to thrive.
And we’re going to be talking today about 3 myths that most people believe about breast cancer, and also specifically talk about the link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer and what you need to know about it.
So, Stacey, welcome. I’m so glad you’re here.
Thank you. I’m so happy to be here. And this is a topic that I’m so passionate about. So, I’m very happy to share this information with your audience.
Casey McGuire Davidson 03:07
Yeah, and I think it’s so important because I know when I was drinking, I was very aware of the hangovers and eventually aware that it was causing my 3am wakeups but not really aware at all, with the link to cancer and also not, Oh, you know, I was a red wine girl and kind of bought into the idea that red wine was the most healthy kind of alcohol and was good for heart health or the whole, you know, French paradox of wine is good for you that was is decades old and has been disproven hundreds and hundreds of times.
Yes, yes. I think that’s part it’s still part of our culture, unfortunately. And I still see things online where people are promoting red wine for health. And that is something that we really need to change.
Casey McGuire Davidson 04:01
And I know that, you know, this is not to shame anyone trust me, I drank a bottle of wine or more for like, many, many, many years. But at the same time, I think Information is power. And the fact that and we’re going to talk about this 70% of women do not know about the link to cancer is, you know, malpractice. It’s terrible.
Yes, I agree. I think information is helpful. And I tell people that all the time there is no shame or blame in this game. Even for people that have been diagnosed with cancer. We can never pinpoint exactly what specifically led to that. But we can educate people about their risk, risk guarantee, but we can get and educate them about that.
Casey McGuire Davidson 04:50
You could get breast cancer for all the reasons, whatever it is, but it is important to know if you’re drinking a lot of Alcohol, what the impacts might be on your risk? Because everybody knows that smoking causes cancer. I mean, I don’t think that there’s anyone out there now who is like, oh, no, smoking is good for you, or smoking is harmless. People choose to do things all the time, that’s bad for you. And that is obviously your choice. But just to not even understand the impacts, I think is, is dangerous, because I think a lot of people might make different choices.
I agree. I agree. And I think supporting people in making those choices as well. So the information is part of it. But also then, if people are saying, hey, I really I may need help with this, this is something that I struggle with. Because obviously, in my line of work, sometimes our people are using alcohol, sometimes to treat things like stress or anxiety or other conditions in their life. And so, in order to help them reduce their use, we may need to have that discussion as well as not just go and stop doing it right. But what can we do to help you so that we’re not using it for that same purpose anymore? And how can we help you kind of treat some of those symptoms that you might be having? Without? Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 06:09
Yeah, absolutely. I know, I’ve definitely heard of people who even drank during their breast cancer treatments. And I think the important thing also, and I tried to say this, in most episodes is that alcohol is addictive. Like, if you are having trouble giving up alcohol or moving away from alcohol or, you know, feel this emotional, habitual physical pole to drink. That is not your fault. That is the substance working as designed. And so, you may need support and help to move away from it. And that is completely okay.
Casey McGuire Davidson 06:55
All right. So, let’s dive in. I know, we talked a little before we started recording, and you were going to talk about 3 myths about breast cancer that are important for every woman to know, and the information you provide it with just fantastic.
so, let’s start with the first one. Because I think a lot of people think that breast cancer, the majority of cases are genetic. And that is just not true. I cannot tell you how many times before I start a conversation about breast cancer risks, or even with a breast cancer survivor, that they’ll say, I’m just so surprised, or I don’t have any breast cancer in my family, I don’t almost, like, I don’t need to worry about it. And that’s just not true. 85% of women that are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history. So, the majority of women that have breast cancer that is not part of their history. So, we need to kind of change that topic right now. And understand that all of us, it’s a sisterhood of women that we need to protect each other and understand that this is not necessarily there is a gene now for breast cancer that’s been identified. So BRCA 1 and 2. But that’s only 5 to 10% of cancers or breast cancers.
So again, this is something that it’s important. Now we talk about some of this genetic testing that we have, if we have like, we know that there’s this family history, but the majority of women, this is not going to apply to them. And they still need to understand their personal risk for breast cancer and what they can do to help prevent it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 08:32
So, I have a question. I know that if your mother, your aunt, or various people in your family or your sister have had breast cancer, you may get tested more often, even if you don’t have the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment (BCRA).
Correct, correct. So, there’s about five September sent or that BRCA 1 and 2, and then there are about 15%. So, we’ll look at that 85 That don’t buy that 15 have, they don’t have a gene, but they do have a stronger family history. So, they may you may hear that history that like oh, my mom or my aunt or my two cousins. And then obviously they still sometimes again, that’s kind of dependent on that patient, but they may decide to do genetic testing or not. And they may decide on different screening protocols for those women, because there is that genetic or potential family history link, but 85% don’t have it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 09:25
And that’s really interesting, because it’s kind of similar with alcohol in that if you hear that, oh, and you know, hey, my mother and my aunt, my cousin had breast cancer. And you know, you need to, or you should get tested more often. The assumption is, if you don’t have that, it’s not a big deal, then yeah, sure. You should get tested but like, not that often and it’s no big deal. And so, in the same way with alcohol people are like, oh, there are those people. People, who have an issue with alcohol, they’re physically dependent there, they have this stuff. And there’s everyone else.
So, like, if you’re not in that category, don’t worry about it just quote unquote, “drink responsibly”. And I do feel like that’s kind of similar with breast cancer, too, right?
Yeah. And I think so I also think people don’t understand the scope of this problem. So, if we take out, basically non melanoma skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in the world. There will be 300 estimated 300,000 women in the US diagnosed with breast cancer this year. That is a lot of women. So, you know, when we talk about that stat of one and eight in your lifetime is the risk of developing breast cancer. This affects a lot of people I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know anybody that doesn’t know somebody that’s had breast cancer. I mean, it is very, very prevalent. And this is where this education piece comes in, as you guys have already talked about, people don’t understand some of these myths that we’re going to talk about today about their own personal risk, but also things that again, they need to be educated about what they should be doing, so that we need to I know so many women who’ve had breast cancer, including good friends from college who were diagnosed when they were 40 years old friends from high school, my mother in law, who was diagnosed much later, local friends, like, I know so many women who have been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, right.
And we do know that, so the average age right now is eyebrows 63. But unfortunately, there’s a kind of disturbing trend in in cancer, unfortunately, that there are more and more younger women, as you stated being diagnosed and not just with breast cancer, we see that even in colon cancer as well. And so that’s why sometimes these recommendations that people always, kind of, get upset when they’re like, Well, why don’t we change it again, because there’s more and more information? And obviously, we kind of see this change over time. I’m also personally very concerned about the potential increased risk because of COVID. Personally, when I’ve talked to patients, a lot of patients were drinking a lot more during COVID. And I’m very concerned that now the next kind of wave of data that we get, we’re going to see this uptick in breast cancer, I don’t know that I’m again, I’m not a researcher, I just talk to patients one on one. But that’s what I’ve heard is, oh, well, you know, I was working from home, I started drinking more kind of became a pattern, you know, and I’m just I’m very scared about what we may see now for the next few years after this to see, you know, because of this potential change in drinking habits.
Casey McGuire Davidson 12:40
Yeah, and that’s the other thing, right? People think that a lot of times drinking is not a big deal, right? You buy into the idea that like, oh, you know, for men, it’s to drinks, you know, a day, 14 a week is, is recommended. That’s the recommended amount, which is insane. And for women, it’s one glass a week, so or one glass a night, so seven a week, they just changed that. They just started saying that no amount of alcohol is safe, or definitely not recommended. And of course, you know, whenever I went to a doctor, I’d be like, you have to fill out the form like a couple glasses of wine a couple of times a week. I mean, at my worst when I was in trying to moderate I was drinking like nine bottles of wine a week, which yes, is insane. But it’s not that uncommon. You know what I mean? I’m not that much of an outlier, from many, many, many women.
Right, right. And then I think there’s a lot of these women that again, buy into the moderation is fine, right? That one drink a day, if I do that, I’m fine. And we’re going to talk about the stat that unfortunately does not show that their risk of breast cancer is not increased it is. So that one during the day increases their risk. So even for the women that are not drinking bottles a day we’re talking about that just you know, even not even daily use. So, it is. It is it’s unfortunate with breast cancer, it is a what we call a dose response. The more you drink, the higher your risk, and there is not a zero unless you’re not drinking. So that’s it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 14:26
Is that myth number 2?
Yeah, so I think we’ll talk about that. So, Myth number 2 is that whole, like, the essentially that this “moderation” thing that I think a lot of people use to talk about things like in their diet and other things, everything is moderation is key, right? And unfortunately, with alcohol and breast cancer specifically, that’s really, you know, if we look at what the what the words are for what moderate drinking is, it is exactly what we just said, but unfortunately, that is not risk free. It does have an increased risk of breast cancer. So, you had shared an infographic that, that basically kind of said this, you know, like basically three to six drinks per week. So obviously, that’s not even that’s almost every other day and one drink. It does increase the risk by 15%. So that’s, that’s pretty significant. You know, that’s, that’s not that’s not the bottles. That’s people that are literally saying, oh, yeah, I’m just, you know, I might be having a drink Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Yeah, that’s it. And some of the studies. I mean, I think the other thing I’d like to talk about is in the United States, of course, we supersize everything. You know, a lot of the studies about alcohol they, we use kind of ounces, everyone else in the world. Oh, my God. Yeah. Right.
So, it’s very confusing. Sometimes when you’re looking at some of the data like, Okay, well, what are we looking at here? They’re looking at five ounces, which is equivalent to about 14 grams. But some of the other studies use the standard of 10 grams, which is even less so for us. If you poured three ounces into a wineglass. That’s what that actually looks like, for most people. That is, that is a very small pour. Right, it’s a small pour, and then to say, half a drink, which is also some of the things we’ve seen a half a drink a day, still has that risk, you’re talking about five grams a day. I mean, it’s literally a splash in your glass. And that has been associated with increased risk.
So, again, I think that’s where people need to understand that this moderation in breast cancer, really, that’s not in alignment. So, we need to change that we need to vote to say that again, you know, and I’m looking at some of the studies right now in the graphics, women who have three alcohol, alcoholic drinks per week, have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer, is that right?
That’s correct. Yes. And I also heard that for every glass above that a week, you increase your risk of breast cancer by an additional 10%.
Yeah, so that’s that dose response on basically, it’s kind of like a trajectory line that basically the more you drink that higher that risk goes. So same thing there isn’t like a endpoint that’s like, oh, no, it’s like, once you get that we don’t see any more. No, it’s the more you drink, the more the more it goes up. And same thing, like I said, even that the fact that three drinks a week, for a lot of people, that’s just the weekend drinkers, right? They might have one glass on, you know, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. That’s an increased risk.
Casey McGuire Davidson 17:24
Yeah. And of course, I’m printing because I’ve like, what would the risk be if you did, like, I don’t know. 30? To 40? I don’t think I love it, though. But you know, it is what it is.
Yeah. So again, I think this is where it’s helpful for people to understand. You know, again, like you said, some people may not and I definitely, I’ve counseled patients that are like, I’m not willing to change. I understand the risk, but I want to continue. Okay, okay, that’s fine. Right. You know, but I think some people are shocked when you give them that information, because they have, you know, told that line like, oh, well, one glass, especially when it’s red wine, that’s actually good for me, right already. And then they’re like, You mean, it increases my risk of breast cancer? You know, they’re very surprised. And so I think it gives them the opportunity to make that decision.
Casey McGuire Davidson 18:11
Yes, absolutely. And the other thing that I was looking at, and we were talking about before, is the American society, and I’ll put all this in the notes of Clinical Oncology did a survey about, you know, National Cancer opinion survey and their findings. And they found that only 30% of Americans identify alcohol as a risk for cancer, whereas 78% identified tobacco use and 66% identified sun exposure as a major cancer risk. So that’s crazy. And I honestly think, well, I know that is by design, right? Big alcohol has extensively lobbied the government to not include cancer warnings on alcohol, right? When you look at add tobacco now I went through the duty free and you know, they have those big packages of tobacco and literally in huge letters. It was like, tobacco causes cancer, tobacco causes lung, you know, lung cancer, lung disease, on alcohol. The only warnings are like drink responsibly, don’t drink while pregnant there. And again, what that makes you think is for everyone, other than pregnant people, this is innocuous. There’s no issue here.
Right. I agree. And I think that’s something that’s got to change, and I think there is like, you know, differences amongst countries about their education about alcohol for sure. And you can actually see that some of that knowledge is different based on that, again, based on education. So that’s where, you know, we and that’s why I said, I think your listeners deserve to know this information, because it’s not being kind of shouted as loudly as it should be here. So, I would love for that to change.
Casey McGuire Davidson 20:24
I would love Ireland. I think last year, they voted to put alcohol warnings on individual, you know, individual items of alcohol that you purchase that literally say alcohol causes cancer, and a couple other things. And the alcohol industry is up in arms, they want some differentiation between Beer and Wine and Spirits, like sure vodka might cause cancer, but not red wine. I mean, Italy, the entire government and the wine industry are very upset, literally saying, if people know this, they will stop consuming this substance. And it’s like, yes. Hopefully they will
and is the hope. Right? That is the hope that are they I mean, at least reduce, right? So, I think that’s their thing is maybe not everyone is going to be completely avoiding. But maybe people will definitely reduce their consumption and have a separate thought about it. You know, knowingness, or at least believe it’s stop believing that it is actually good for you.
Yes, yes. And so that was there was a stat that I found. So again, I was kind of prepping there. There are lots of those kinds of organizations that do those, those research things. I think they’re very interesting, because obviously, you kind of see that the trends, the infographic that you shared with me about that one that you just said, that was about 30%, they’ve redone it. So that was from 2017. They redid it like 3 years later, to be like, okay, is, you know, are we getting any better and went up to 34%. So, it’s still we still have a lot of room to grow there. But one of the organizations, I thought it was really interesting, because they asked that question about the link between types of alcohol and cancer, and more people believe so it was like that 30% was really about like, hard liquor was attributed to cancer, only 24% thought there was a connection between beer and cancer, and even less, so of course, wine is always again, touted as the health food 20%. And the sad thing was the one study that, like I said, this one blew my mind was that 10% of this, these people thought that wine actually reduced their risk of cancer.
So, we’re not talking about heart disease, right? We’re not talking about that, that, you know, the touted benefit that’s been out there, but they actually got it reduced cancer. So, you know, that’s 10% of this whole studies that thought that so that’s concerning as well. So that’s where, you know, when I’ve done social media poems about cancer, and an alcohol, I specifically use a picture of red wine for that reason to say like, we’ve got to stop saying like, this is a health food like it is, it is not.
Is that one to roll back on that? I mean, yeah.
So that’s the interesting thing I will say for your audience of October is coming and those posts will be coming back for breast cancer awareness. Hey, did I got some pretty nasty messages? I also got the most messages ever about share your data, show me the studies that they are almost like, don’t believe me, you know, that I’m like, you know, again, let them you know, trying to spread rumors about alcohol or something that aren’t true. And, you know, some people were really kind of nasty in the DMS, like, you know, don’t take this away for me kind of thing. Like, you know, this is or scare tactics and that kind of thing. And I think exactly what you brought up before, tobacco is now like, no one has no one’s ever said that to me about tobacco. You know, no one says that, to me, if I talk about the benefits of exercise people, like they might not be doing it, but they know it, you know, they know it’s good for them. Right? But alcohol people are like, What are you doing? Like, this is not true? It’s good for me and you know, I’m going to keep keep doing it. And they really, they’re, they’re angry about it sometimes. So. So again, that’s where I feel like obviously, we need to change some thoughts about it. Because it is, you know, people still
Casey McGuire Davidson 24:20
and you kind of believe what you want to believe. And, and again, judging. I mean, I remember when I was pregnant with my son, for son, he’s 15. Now, one of you know, I had the impression because my friends told me, and I had heard this and you hold on to whatever data supports what you want to do that I know it was perfectly fine to have half a glass of wine once a week in your third trimester of pregnancy. And I mentioned that to my doctor, and she was like, yes, that is not true. And how would you feel if you’re drinking that impacted your baby in any way? And I was pissed. I was like, fuck you for saying that, like, dare you guilt me, you know, XYZ. And I mean, I get it, I get it like, you love the impact of alcohol, we think it’s the way that we relax and connect. And it’s a privilege of adulthood. And I mean, I think most people know, don’t drink when pregnant, there’s a big stigma. I mean, you can’t like, order a glass of wine when you’re clearly pregnant at a restaurant, like without people being like, What the hell are you doing? You could take a sip of your friends. Sure. But like, yeah, you know, it’s, it’s socially unacceptable to do that. But everywhere else alcohol use is encouraged and sanction. And you know, you’re almost pressured to drink.
So, yeah, you’re asked why you’re not, you know, like, it’s something you know, you have to explain. But yeah, I do. I think there needs to be changed about that. But obviously, the fact that there is that much pushback, first of all, it tells us that the education just still isn’t there, because there’s a lot of people that don’t believe it. So, we do need to do a better job about that. And I think if that comes also from multiple sources, I think that’s also helpful. So that, you know, obviously, that there are other organizations that are kind of trying to spread this word, but also one on one with hopefully a provider that you have built a relationship with, and you trust, that information sometimes can mean a lot more when they say, Hey, you know, I’m really worried about this for you. I can tell you just being on the other end of that conversation, and I might start to cry, because it gets me every time. It is a I obviously if it never compares to what that person is going through. I’m not. I’m just going to say that. But to have to deliver that type of news to someone is a horrible part of our job. You know that there is no sugarcoating, there is no way that no matter how much empathy you have, in that moment, eye contact body language, that what you are telling someone when you have to tell someone that they have cancer, that you are not dropping a literal bomb onto them.
Yeah, you did. And there’s nothing that can, you will, you know, that, that moment will, forever. That person is forever changed from that conversation that is not lost on me. And in our conversation today can help me and you and other people listening, understand that there are things that people can do to reduce this risk. I would love to see these numbers come down. Yeah, yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 27:42
And not only that, I mean, I honestly was terrified. And I’m sure I still am. But when I was drinking, I mean, one of my big fears was that I was going to, you know, mess up my family and my kids and my health. And it was going to be my own fault. I mean, I had dreams about being diagnosed with like, liver cancer and being like, how am I going to explain this away? Like it is clearly due to my heavy alcohol consumption? But that’s not to say that anyone who is diagnosed with breast cancer or going through treatment or a survivor, like, don’t, you don’t need to blame yourself for anything you did in the past? Like, honestly, no, no, no, we don’t.
Because like I said, There’s no way we will know that impact. I mean, there were there’s even studies now they’re looking at things that is potentially even a generation before you so like exposures that your mother had that could have contributed to that. I mean, so like, there’s so many things that we cannot control. But even still, I mean, obviously we do the best sometimes with the information we have in the moment. Sometimes that changes over time. But that doesn’t mean now you can go backwards in We can’t judge that. And again, we don’t want that anyone to feel that way. Either that we’re that we’re judging or blaming, because we are not.
Casey McGuire Davidson 29:08
Yes. And a lot of this information truly was not available. I think that the American Cancer Society, just and you’ll correct me in 2020 changed their guidelines to say no amount of I mean, literally three and a half years ago before they said the recommended. I mean, I’m still I’m still amazed. The word recommended was used was seven drinks a week for women. I mean, so, you know, absolutely not anyone’s fault. And one of the reasons that I wanted to have you on is to talk about what you can do. You’re listening to this now. How you can take care of yourself. Better.
Casey McGuire Davidson
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Ah, yeah, I think. I think that’s really important, and I do Want to say to that like that some of these studies with alcohol, they’re not even 10 years old yet. So that’s part of the issue is like some of this data obviously is still coming in. Thankfully, they are doing research on this stuff. But some of the stuff is pretty new, obviously. And that’s even changed.
So, I’ve been a physician over 20 years, this information wasn’t even available when I trained. So, you know, thankfully, I’ve kept up to date with this is a passion of mine and interest of mine. So, you might ask somebody that was trained a while ago, are they even familiar with some of this stuff? And they may or may not be so that’s the other thing. I mean, I think we even need not even just the average public, we need to train even healthcare providers about this. Just like with your questionnaire, you know, if you see something with, you know, this amount of alcohol in there, are we having that conversation about cancer?
Casey McGuire Davidson 30:46
And by the way, the like five ounces of alcohol, I am sure I had double that three, every drink. I mean, I think I’ve definitely gone to bars, and this is the bars I used to love where they would like, Would you like an eight ounce pour or 12 ounce? And I’d be like, Oh, baby, give me the 12? Right. 12? That’s, you know, two and a half times.
Yeah, I literally did an experiment in my house that I have these nice stemless kind of fatter. I loved red wine. Right. So that’s something I enjoyed. So, I had these ones, that and I was like, I’m just going to see, like, what does three ounces look like in that container? And it was like, barely covered the bottom. And I was like, Yeah, that would not have been how much I would have poured for myself. So Oh, my God, I think we need to like two thirds of those giant. I mean, plus, they give you the bigger glasses for red wine, right? Mine’s the fatter ones, right?
Or whatever the fuck. Right? Right.
So, I mean, I think that’s the only thing is if you’re, you know, if you’re pouring yourself, the one standard drink is usually not what you think it is. The volume is not the same. And so, I think, you know, even just pouring it out yourself. You can see it, what that actually looks like but so yeah, so I do think that’s important information for people to know about us. That’s really what it is. It’s not based on. So, you know, if you pour a big pour that just because it’s one glass, doesn’t mean that it’s not the same amount as three ounces or five ounces, what we’re talking about, so yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 32:19
Yeah, absolutely. And so all this is to say that, you know, there is a significant risk, cancer risk associated with alcohol, if you have three or more glasses a week that are three glasses of week, three drinks a week, it increases your risk of breast cancer by 15%. Every drink over that raises your risk 10% additional, and it doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol it is. It can be whiskey, or vodka or tequila or wine or beer, right? Alcohol is alcohol and it’s a corrosive carcinogen. How do you say then?
Yeah, carcinogen, right? So, it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter the type that we’re just talking about alcohol as a whole. And so again, I think that’s important for people to understand. But so, you mentioned like, what can we do? So first, let’s before we move to some of the things that we can do, because I love that’s one of the things that I love helping people with is what we do, right, we want to take action on some of this stuff. But I do like people to understand their personal risk, and this is something that you definitely can evaluate. So, there is. There’s what we call a professional tool. There’s lots of different tools, sometimes as physicians that we may use to help estimate risk. Again, this is never a guarantee, it’s just estimating someone’s risk based on some of these known factors. And so, we can kind of input some of that information into little, some statistician somewhere created a calculator for us. And that will give us a breast cancer risk. And we’re going to share that with your audience. So, they can hopefully, they can kind of look at that themselves and put their own information in there. And if they find that there’s an increased risk, again, that’s something that then, they can discuss with their provider. Do we need additional screening based on that that test? And you know, what else can we do? So, we’ll, we’ll talk about that.
But one of the things that I like to educate my own patients about that, again, I don’t feel like it gets enough information out there is breast density. So, this will be something that, if you’ve had a mammogram, you will see on your report now, I will say this initial changes, most people will see it on a report is currently not a US guideline that all in all States do not report this, so I think it’s suppose, in 38 states currently will report your breast density on a mammogram as of next year in 2024 of September. It will be a national guideline that all states must report your breast density in a mammogram report. I like to tell people you cannot tell by looking at someone, you cannot tell by your own self breast exam. I cannot do on a breast exam, tell someone how dense their breasts are. It is based on mammograms.
So, it’s looking at the percentage kind of how much of the breast tissue is kind of fatty, versus how much of it is made up of some of this like fibrous glandular tissue, that kind of stuff. And it’s a recommendation of kind of percentage-wise, and so that the radiologist will give you that score, and it’s a letter, it’s either A, B, C, or D. and A is kind of the has the most fatty versus some of those other tissues. And as we go up to d, d is the most dense breasts, so they have less percentage of that fat. And unfortunately, what we know is that about 10% of women are a about 40% are B. And then when we get to C, and D, these are both considered groups that have higher breast density. So, C and D, C is about 40% of women, and D is about 10. So about 50% of women have increased breast density on a mammogram.
And the two things that I like people to understand about that is, if it’s on your report, usually there’s like a little notation at the bottom that says, By the way, increased breast density increases the risk of breast cancer, and it also makes me tomography, slightly less sensitive to finding breast cancer. So, we have a slightly increased risk. And we also it’s harder to find it now using a mammogram, I like people to understand that because then that can also then open that conversation to, okay, some of these things we can’t change, we want to be aging, right, that’s a good thing. Aging is good. You know, there’s some things that we can’t change about our, you know, when we had our first period, or some of those other risk factors that come into play. But there are things that we can change, obviously, we’ve talked a lot about alcohol.
The other two that I really start counseling patients about at that point are exercise. So, movement and really incorporating a lot more physical activity into their life. And then we also talk about obesity or being overweight. And this is especially a risk factor in women that are postmenopausal. So, after menopause, definitely that weight gain, which happens for a lot of women, because of some of those hormone shifts, it’s very common to start kind of gaining weight, but it does then increase their risk of breast cancer. So, we want to talk through that and see you again, we can help with ways to help them lose weight in a healthy way to reduce that risk.
And so, in terms of breast density, right, you’re saying 50% of women have those denser breasts? Does that just it’s just the way you’re born? The way your breast form? Okay, so there, it’s believed to be actually looked, because there have been some studies about alcohol and breast density just like, does drinking more increase the density? And there were a few that was, like suggested that it could, and that is that, you know, there’s lots of ways that alcohol can increase cancer is that another? So there’s a potential but the studies weren’t as conclusive. So I would say that the evidence still we don’t have enough of those yet to. But I would say it’s kind of plus minus. But yeah, some of that is how you’re built. You know, that can also be maybe some genetics there. And same thing, kind of what’s your made up of your breast tissue, but it’s not something you can really change very much. So. So
Casey McGuire Davidson 38:00
if you get that designation? What would be the next step? Because your doctor may or may not recommend it? Is it like an MRI, or? Or what’s the next thing you should advocate for?
Yeah, that’s a great question. So that, unfortunately, we don’t have an answer. So sadly, and that’s where it’s going to be probably personalized care. So this is where some of these other tools come into play. Because what we would do is we would identify what are some of those other risk factors? So that is looking at things like your family history is looking to see Have you had an abnormal base, basically an abnormal mammogram before? Have you had a breast biopsy, some of those other things are in that tool that I told you about? So that information goes in there, and then we have the dense breast issue, and then they can decide, okay, what should we do for this individual patient? Sometimes it could be an ultrasound, sometimes it could be a breast MRI, but we don’t have a guideline yet about like, there’s no protocol, there is no guideline, like, if you have this, we do this unfortunate, we don’t have it. And I can tell you, so personally, I’m in the C category. And no one even talked to me about it. And like, kind of, was like, okay, so I did my own little risk tool, I kind of was like, Okay, what do I know, where am I on this spectrum? But the problem is, because there’s not protocols, or there’s not like a definitive answer, like, we should do this every six months. And this, this or for this group of people. So sometimes it’s even looking at, you know, that’s the hard thing with breast cancer, there’s, there’s actually multiple types of breast cancer. And then there’s different data based on whether someone’s pre or post and then there’s different data on race. And like, there’s a lot, there’s a lot of different info.
So, I think it’s going to probably end up being kind of more individualized. But what we say is, you know, like, there isn’t like a set protocol, because there’s not a set protocol. Unfortunately, a lot of insurances are not going to pay for it. So even if you determine that you’re like, hey, you know, I may want some additional screening here. You know, it’s not a guarantee because there isn’t a protocol for it. Yeah,
Casey McGuire Davidson 40:00
I hate that. So, I hate that so much. I do two questions for you about risk. Okay, so I know you’re not my doctor, yada, yada, yada. So, if I did drink the way I drank for many, many years, and I quit seven and a half years ago, should I talk to my doctor about like, all right, I now know this information about alcohols risk on breast cancer, we may want to look it at me more closely or get mammograms more often? Or is that not something I need to do?
That would be it’d be a difficult question to answer, we know it would have increased your risk, right. But we don’t yet know. And again, for an individual, I would say that you probably should put your information into that tool as well. And then have that discussion with your provider and say, you know, what would be kind of the recommended screen, because again, that’s going to be based on a lot of other factors individually for you. But I also think, for you to be hyper vigilant. I also tell women this all the time, same thing, the guidelines have kind of been changed about self-breast exams, you know, your body the best. If you think there is something wrong, do not stop at one person telling, you know, don’t worry about it, keep going, I hate those stories of people that are not listened to. And then you find out like, Oh, God, you know, that this something didn’t get, you know, checked out. And sure enough, it was something a problem.
So, I think that’s the other part of this is, there are tools, and you can definitely talk about that kind of individualized approach. But also, you know, for you to be vigilant. Now you know about that, if you are doing exams, I find you learning, I think it’s very important to be an advocate for yourself part of I haven’t done a breast self-exam, like maybe three times in my entire life. And it’s not because like, I don’t want to touch my breasts. I’m just like, I don’t fucking know.
Part of that is learning what’s normal for you, though, right? So, there’s a lot of people that will be like, you know, I have really lumpy breasts, and it kind of freaks me out. I really don’t want to and then that’s okay. It means anything, you may want to then just talk to your provider and be like, hey, you know, I’d prefer I don’t want to be the one doing this. Maybe it makes you too anxious, things like that, you know, are you willing to kind of help me with this? That’s those are conversations we have all the time with people. But I also think you know, you know, your body the best changes even in the skin of the brass, things like that. Those are things that you want to do not wait and do not, like I said, do not take no for an answer. Get it evaluated.
Casey McGuire Davidson 42:34
And so, you talked about the tool, and I think you’re going to give me the link so I can put it in, I’m going to give you the show notes. And maybe you can also give me a link to like, how to do a self-breast exam that I can put in the show notes. So, what’s the name of the tool you’re mentioning?
It has a couple. There’s, there’s 2 names that you might see if you Googled it.
So, it’s the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool (BCRAT). Of course, there’s always an acronym and everything in medicine. So, like, almost like breast cancer rat, but it’s breast cancer risk assessment tool, or it’s also known as the GAIL model, GA IL, and it was after the person that developed it. So, either one of those, if you Google those, you’ll be able to find it. But I’ll give you the direct link so that people can input that.
Casey McGuire Davidson 43:18
Perfect. Okay, thank you.
Oh, sure. Sure. All right.
So, we talked about no family history, 85% don’t have family history, you know, and still develop breast cancer. So that’s not something that that women should, should automatically stop and be like, Oh, but I don’t have family history. This is not something I need to worry about. Right? Yeah, the video as women we all need to worry about it. Yes. By virtue of having breasts.
Yeah, that is correct. Yeah. And then the alcohol link, which we’ve talked about extensively. Sorry, guys, but it is good information that it absolutely increases your risk, and you should be aware of that and cut down or consider since you’re listening to this cutting out entirely, right.
Carefree life is awesome. Breast Density, looking at that and figuring out from your mammogram or talking to your doctor about whether you’re A, B, C, or D. 50% of women have more dense breasts, which increases the risk of breast cancer and also makes it harder to find, right? It’s doing self-breast exams. I got to get on that using tool, exercise movement, being overweight, postmenopausal what else that that we need to know.
Let’s see. So, I think I know what I can do is also share. There’s another handout for you that I can share that. So, it was from Lifestyle Medicine, and it talks about some of these tips, kind of, for breast cancer. We don’t have as much data on like specific “fix”, like, you know, we talked about foods and nutrition and things like that. But I’m a big proponent in a few things, obviously, for a healthy diet, really kind of reducing kind of processed foods in the diet in general. But also really, it’s more what we want to encourage people to take in which I would say for cancer, whether it’s breast cancer or other cancers, and just overall, for overall health, it’s fiber.
That’s another thing, I would scream from the rooftops, we got to get more fiber in our diet. So, lots of fruits and vegetables. There are some amazing what we call phytochemicals.
So, there’s things that we, you know, when we eat a certain food, there’s things like, you know, obviously most people know about calories. But there’s other things like vitamins and minerals, right. But there’s other things that are packaged in there called phytochemicals. So, these are kind of unique pigments, that usually, there’s different ones, usually for different colors. And that’s why when we talk about eating the rainbow, we’re not talking about Skittles, we’re trying, we’re trying to talk about, you know, really making sure we’re getting these different colors of fruits and vegetables in our diet throughout a week. So, we really want to look at that. That’s important because some of these phytochemicals actually help our body fight cancer, fight disease. And then we’re also getting this beautiful package of usually those foods are low calorie, they are lots of vitamins and minerals. And they also have a lot of fiber.
So, if you are going to try to do anything, I would just add, that’s one of the first steps I work on, it’s not so much taking stuff out. First, I talked about let’s get some of this stuff in, right. So, we want to encourage a lot of these healthy foods in the diet.
Casey McGuire Davidson 46:30
So that doesn’t make an actual big difference, right? Because I know with the red wine, it was the idea that the skin of the grapes increases, you know, heart healthiness and people are like, yeah, you would have to eat that tonight. Yeah. So, like in terms of fruits and vegetables and eating the rainbow and fiber, like, how much of a difference does it make? And how much do you need to eat?
That’s a good question. I don’t know if I have the answer off the top of my head for like a stat for that. But I usually tell people like there is for most Americans, like, I would say, I think 98% of us are considered fiber deficient, that we don’t meet the standards. And so, the standards really the higher again, kind of the higher you go with that usually the more benefit you get.
So, for most people, they’re not even getting to that, like five servings of fruits and vegetables today. So that’s kind of a day, that’s kind of the first place we try to get people, I really tell them kind of optimal is probably nine. So that’s where we’re trying to eventually get people to. So, I usually encourage when I work with patients, 1-on-1.
So, again, I’m not a big like, counter, I don’t find that super helpful. A lot of people don’t like that. I don’t like eating to be stressful. So, I usually just say, like, wherever we can, whenever we have a meal or a snack, let’s just add a fruit or vegetable into it. So, it just, you know, just to get into that mindset, because a lot of people they get, you know, when I do their little history that’s like, the vegetables only come at dinner, like the spirit interesting when you’re like, you see their breakfast, and then you see their lunch, we might have some fruit in there. And then all of a sudden, it’s like, oh, and I have like a meeting to like, grab a Catholic video, do I do vegetables and one of them is a starch and you’re kind of like, okay, so that’s something that we work on. It’s like, can we increase some of these kinds of vegetables throughout the day? So, that’s what I would say is just generally general, speaking, more is better. But they have looked at that in breast cancer, and they do feel that increasing fiber is protective for heart for breast health.
But without question things, like colon cancer, which is also on the rise in younger people. 100% these, you know, these things in our diet make a difference? I think the hard part with diet is that we don’t, you know, food comes in a package, right? So, there’s, there’s a lot there that we’re like, Okay, well, what makes the difference? Is it we always want to, like, dissect everything.
So, it’s like, Well, was it the fiber? Or was it the phytochemical? Or was it the fact that now this person got a lot more magnesium? So, it’s, it’s hard to dissect that in Food Studies when we do them. So, we just kind of know, like, more fibers is better, and more fruits and vegetables are better.
Casey McGuire Davidson 49:03
Yeah, I would say I totally get that. What about like a fiber supplement or something? Does that help at all?
I think that’s a bad idea. But what I tell people is that’s the, that’s the, the icing on the cake is what I like to use, you know, like, we still have to have the basics and for that reason is because the fiber supplement is just the fiber. The food has that package. It has stuff, right? It has that in it. But also, when you think about it, when you’re incorporating more of those healthy foods in your diet, what are you automatically doing, you have less room for the less healthy things in your diet. So that’s the other thing is we want to think about is like when we fill our plate with two thirds of it are kind of fruits and vegetables and some of those other things. We’re filling up our stomach with things that are really healthy for us. And we’re naturally, so we don’t have to be like oh, you cannot eat this. You know, it’s because that doesn’t usually work very well. So, we’re focusing on more what we should be getting, and that’s going to naturally just Help us eat less of some of those foods that we just really don’t want to have as much of in our diet. So, I think it kind of works from that angle too. But yeah, I don’t mind someone taking a fiber supplement if that helps them to get to that goal. But it does I tell it never takes the place of the food that we always wanted to food first.
Casey McGuire Davidson 50:14
Got it. Good information. What else can people do to sort of reduce the risks take care of themselves specifically related to breast cancer.
So, some of the stuff hasn’t been studied as well. But I’m a big believer that I do think so when we think about cancer, we all have basically cells that can become cancerous. In our body, thankfully, most of us have an immune system that can help kind of counteract that, unfortunately, people that develop cancer that doesn’t, that mechanism doesn’t work as well. And that’s sometimes what leads to that. So, there’s a lot of different things that can cause that. But I do believe that for a lot of people, you know, we do know studies about, okay, what can impact immune health. So, that’s something that, again, we don’t have like a specific stat that says, we’ll need to do this to reduce the risk here. But I just generally talk to people about some of the other pillars of lifestyle medicine, which, again, across the board, this reduces for not just breast cancer, but cardiovascular disease, all those things.
So, it’s also things like working on stress. So, stress reduction techniques, right? Stress does not do good things, when we’re in chronic stress mode to our immune system. We know that there’s actually studies that have looked at people wounds don’t heal as fast when people are chronically stressed. That’s your that’s your body’s ability to heal. If Yeah, so it’s I mean, it’s pretty powerful when you see things like that, you know, we know that.
So, sleep is the other one that is totally not talked about enough. And it’s so important. And so many people again, that’s almost like a badge of honor to be like, oh, you know, I just pushed through. And, you know, I just decided to stay up late and get my work done. You’re like, oh, yeah, there’s a lot of things that happen in our sleep, that are actually active, that are really important for our health. So, it’s not wasted time at all. It’s if anything, it usually helps you be more productive. But it’s critically important for things like your immune system to sleep and to sleep well. So, you know, there’s other aspects of our life. And that’s where the alcohol, we always circle back to that, right. So, you know, alcohol has the direct effect, because it is a carcinogen. It affects sleep, we know that it affects sleep quality, it also affects your immune system, it affects your gut health. We know that too. And there’s all these different, you know, studies coming out about gut health and our microbiome. And alcohol is not good for that either. So, you know, we always have to kind of come back to all these different how and that’s why I love integrative medicine is, it’s always looking at the big picture, how do all of these things connect? And how can we really kind of optimize our bodies, health healing, well-being? And it’s so it’s so critically important?
Casey McGuire Davidson 52:51
Yeah. And it spikes your cortisol, you know, the stress, it does? Well, so I think even a single glass of wine decreases your sleep quality by 27% I’ve looked at and anything you know, two glasses or more decreases your sleep quality by 40%. So most women listening to this, or certainly at one time or another have had those awful two or 3am wake ups where your anxieties just surging related to drinking. But even if you haven’t, even if you’re drinking one glass A Night to glass at night, it will interrupt your sleep or decrease your sleep quality buy a big amount. Yeah.
And so, we didn’t talk about those were kind of talked about. But those would be two myths that I would definitely kind of counsel people about with alcohol specifically, is one a lot of people use it to really, they think it’s helping their stress. And then I say no, it’s not, it really isn’t. And then secondly, they Watsonville say they use it to help them fall asleep. And then I say it may help you fall asleep, but I guarantee you are not sleeping, if the restorative sleep is not the same. You are not typically getting that stage three and four sleep, which is where all the good stuffs happening. So no, those are those are two more myths that we can add to the list of you know, things that people really kind of think about with alcohol, but really the reality is it’s not true.
Casey McGuire Davidson 54:19
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I was definitely in the category of thinking it helped me sleep and relax, and then was going to my doctor going, oh my god, I have insomnia because my job so stressful. I wake up at 3am and stressed out so asking for medication to help for that. And, you know, for a while, I was truly oblivious, like I did not know that, um, what was causing those wakeups. So, again, when you know more, you’re able to make better choices, and it’ll also shift your beliefs about what alcohol does As for you, and how it helps you. And that’ll help you make more informed choices, or at least when, when you do wake up at 3am, or you’re like, Oh, this is because of the alcohol. And even that awareness will just shift the way you think about your drinking, which will help you make better choices. But the other thing is, I mean, I, you know, was out to dinner with one of my best friends who loves her red wine, we used to drink together a lot. And she’s always talking about eating healthy, she’s talking about all her exercise. And you know, she was having red wine. And I happen to mention that three glasses a week increases your risk of breast cancer by 15%. And she literally was like, No way. I don’t believe you. That’s not true. And I was like, my entire job is studied alcohol. So, I can tell you it is true. But you know, whatever, I can give you the link to the study. Because obviously, like I said, I’ve had people email me for it. So, if you want that in the show notes, let’s give them the studies, you can look at it themselves.
Casey McGuire Davidson 56:07
So even if you guys don’t normally check out the show links, or the show notes, I always put a lot of stuff, great stuff in there, especially on my website, because I have more space. But definitely go there for the tool to assess your breast cancer, like, I am going to do that. I’m going to do that right after I get the link. And I encourage you to as well. But there will be a lot of really good information in here. So, I appreciate Stacey, you sharing those with me?
Sure. Yeah, I’m happy to help. Like I said, that’s what I would love for I’d love for this information to really get out there and for people to be talking about it. And for people to be talking about it with our health care provider as well.
Casey McGuire Davidson 56:50
And I know a lot of the work you do. On your website, you’ve got free video trainings on strategies to help breast cancer thrivers reduce the risk of reoccurrence, and minimize the side effects of treatments, which I think is really interesting. And you talk about things missing from breast cancer survivorship care. So, if you are going through treatment, if you are a survivor, definitely go to Stacy’s website, will you tell us what that is?
Sure. It’s thriving ABC. So, it’s after breast cancer is an abbreviation for that. So thriving abc.com. And I have some, like she said, some free resources on my website that really can help. And I do have that video training, which just really explains more, because a lot of people don’t even understand what survivorship is and what should be happening in survivorship. So that training goes into a lot more details about that. And then I kind of explain how I complement what I do is with what the oncologist does, and so their role is typically again, to be the expert in treating your breast cancer, they kind of have that disease focus, essentially, my focus is on that person’s wellness and recovery and healing. So, it’s two very different things. But hopefully, together, they kind of add up to really helping these women, you know, feel a lot better. And I think that’s all throw another myth out there for you. A lot of people unfortunately, they get diagnosed, they go through a lot. They go through surgery, potentially, and chemotherapy, maybe radiation, sometimes plastic surgery, there’s a lot of hurdles to get through. And then what happens is the expectation for a lot of these patients, and even for their, you know, their people in their life, so their neighbors and their friends is like, they ring that bell and they’re done their treatment, and then all of a sudden it’s over. It’s not, it is so not these women do not feel well, they have a lot of short and long term side effects.
You know, and this is an area that at that moment, they start not seeing their doctor anymore. Like you know, the oncologist might be like, Okay, I’ll see you in three months. And that’s when all of a sudden a lot of the questions come. And they you know, and unfortunately, a lot of times emotionally kind of hits because they’ve just had, you know, it’s just appointment just getting through the day. And then all of a sudden, it’s like, okay, you know, some of the questions are, what can I do, like, I don’t want to just wait three months, like, I want to have a role in this, like, I want to help if there’s a chance or something I can do to reduce this risk of it coming back, I want to do it. So, they want to know more about that. But they also want to feel better. And I think that’s the other expectation is like this active treatment date ends and they’re like expecting to be back to where they were before and they’re not. Some of these women are on medications for 10 years that are hormone blockers that have a lot of side effects. And that can cause a lot, a lot of problems. And so that’s my role is to kind of help support that journey for them and just be another source of support and help.
Casey McGuire Davidson 59:59
Yeah, and I think that’s really important for people to understand. And I’m talking about myself as well. Because I do know a lot of friends who are either going through treatment or have been through treatment. And I think it’s just natural in our society to want to absolutely be there for people when they’re going through sort of a crisis time period. I mean, you do the food train, and everybody volunteers, and you visit them and drive them to appointments. But once you’re quote, unquote, you know, “you’re done”. You know, in remission, you’re just like, Alright, great, you’re good. And you move on to the next thing in your life without checking in, and without seeing what else is going on, especially emotionally.
Right? Yeah. And I think that’s the problem is, usually that’s what happens is socially their supports, like you said, a lot of that stuff just kind of stops, because people just have that assumption that like, Oh, they’re, you know, they’re done that right? Then it also happens in the healthcare and space. So, like, all of a sudden, they’re kind of like, Yeah, we don’t You don’t you see for months, and then these women are just kind of like, what just happened, you know, like, this is this is not okay. And they need they need a lot of help. It’s not over. And it’s not unfortunately, never over. And I think that’s some of the other the research shows is that, you know, the fear of a recurrence doesn’t go away.
Generally speaking, that that is something that no matter kind of how far out we look, a lot of women are still dealing with that. That, you know, obviously that and like I said, that that’s why I know that giving that diagnosis is it is a change forever, that you are now frightened about your health for the future. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:01:40
And I want to, for myself, just validate or disprove some belief I have. So, I, my dad had pancreatic cancer, my best friend had brain cancer. Unfortunately, they both passed away. It’s my impression that breast cancer is treatable. I mean, obviously, not in every case. But the survivorship rate or your ability to come through it, depending on when you’re diagnosed, is much higher than those other types of cancers, which can be incredibly deadly. And I’m not a Doctor.
So, will you tell me if that’s true? So, I would say that there is some truth to that statement. Obviously, it is dependent on stage unfortunate, there are some women that at diagnosis are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, and then their survivor rates are much lower than someone that they meet, let’s say set stage one or something like that.
So, there’s always going to be that kind of difference based on staging and things like that. But yes, people with kind of early stage, stage one, two, the success rate and treatment is quite good. But what I would say is, and this is I’m speaking for them, and I really, I’m not a breast cancers viral, and we say that, but just having worked with them, I will say this is that, again, treating the cancer is just one part of the battle. So, an understanding that that again, that there may be side effects that they will have lifelong because of that treatment. So yes, so maybe surviving, is not the same as thriving. And that’s where that difference comes in. But yes, you are correct.
So certain diagnosis, obviously, you mentioned like pancreatic cancer, some of those definitely, if you looked at the stats and kind of compare them, there is a higher mortality rate with those cancers.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:03:29
Yeah, that is great to know. And I fully buy into what you’re saying, and the amount of support women need, who are moving through this and who have moved through this. I think the work you’re doing is incredible. I am really excited for people to listen to this episode. I know it may not be what you want to hear. But the more you know, the better you can take care of yourself. And also, it’s really great to know that there are resources out there like you like the work you’re doing. So, after you’ve gone through breast cancer, having that support and survivorship care, and, you know, strategies you can use to thrive.
Yeah, I think it’s really important. And I’m glad that you had me today and were willing to talk about this. I mean, it’s just such an important topic. Unfortunate. There’s still a lot of inequalities that exist in definitely, I think women’s still the care for women is still not where it needs to be. This just kind of highlights that.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:04:34
Yeah, absolutely. And I still have to say that I see all the time fundraisers will probably see it in October, for breast cancer for breast cancer treatment and awareness that are freaking tied to alcohol. I mean, alcohol companies release like bottles with the pink ribbon. I can’t fucking believe it.
Yes. I will say that I’ve even seen a fundraiser, or it was actually for a breath it was for I think it was something for breast cancer survivors specifically, it was like a local thing. But that the raffle was for wine. And I was like, Oh, yeah. What? Like, I mean, hello mixed messages. I mean, come on, like, Let’s not, do this. I mean, it blew my mind, I’m like, This cannot be happening.
So obviously, we need some advisories on these some of these things that like, Alcohol should not have pink ribbons. It should not be associated with you know, making money for this in any way. If anything, like I said, this is something that if we educate about it, we can reduce the numbers of cancer cases in America in around the world and we need to be like shouting that from everywhere and again, I think enacting legislation that IT people that it’s on the packaging. You know, if we have shampoo bottles that tell us we can’t put something in our stupid I, you know, like, Hello, yeah, burned I you know, with shampoo, and it is not quite the same as alcohol and some of these cancer risks. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s not like anywhere close to the same level of, of risk. And I think it’s something that we’ve got to change.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:06:11
Yeah, absolutely. Alright, so where can people find you? Where can they learn more? I know, you said, you gave the URL before but tell me one more time. Sure. So, my website is thriving abc.com. And then, on social media, I’m on Instagram @staceydevinemd. And de and then I also have a Facebook page, which is thriving after breast cancer with Stacy Devine. I would love for any of your listeners, when I do my October alcohol posts, when I get all the pushback, I would love some positive feedback on those. You know, it’s always nice, obviously, when you put yourself out there to get somebody that’s like, Thank you for sharing that information, rather than some of the people that hate you for it.
So um, so yeah, so I know we’re connected to love the gram, so I will absolutely share and comment in a positive way.
Yeah. And I think for women, I mean, I think same thing to have girls nights. This is not the time for us to, you know, when we’re getting together to start talking about not having alcohol in that situation. Okay.
I know, You’ve, I’ve listened to your podcast. So, I think, you know, that’s another that’s a whole nother social thing. But I that’s what I would love for your audience to kind of think about is like, can we have a get together? That is super fun. And we get together and we support each other? And like, let’s not be. It’s centered around alcohol. Yeah, our own health.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:07:33
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s great. So, we’ll just we’ll just end there. It’s great advice. Thank you for coming on.
Oh, sure. Thank you so much for having me.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more.