Thanks to a grant from Women’s College Hospital’s Women’s Xchange $15K Challenge, PAD and Campus Health Promotion at the University of Waterloo (UW) conducted a focus group study involving UW, Laurier, and Conestoga College students to develop awareness messages about alcohol consumption and lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. This study allowed us to understand what resonates with the audience, female students, 18-22 years of age, and which communication channels they prefer to receive health information.
Why does it matter undergraduate women know about this relationship? There is convincing evidence of a causal relationship between alcohol consumption and female breast cancer, but the level of awareness about this dose-response association is low. Plus, the window of time when breast tissue proliferation is high and potentially more susceptible to carcinogens, like alcohol, is between menarche and first pregnancy and post-secondary students are at an increased risk for high alcohol exposure. Therefore, it is not only important to increase awareness that the more alcohol a woman consumes over her lifetime the higher her risk for breast cancer, but there is also an elevated risk associated with consumption earlier in life.
The findings of the study suggest that educating students about specific health risks not typically associated with alcohol may be an effective strategy to promote contemplating reduced alcohol consumption. To learn more about the study, the messages developed and the next steps for disseminating the awareness ads, please read the summary report and watch our dynamic and informative video. If you are involved in post-secondary health promotion and interested in acquiring and disseminating the awareness tools we produced (posters, GIF for social media), or have questions or feedback, please contact PAD at email@example.com, or me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jane McCarthy, MSc, MPH
Manager, Program Development
Parent Action on Drugs