18 November, 2022

There are lots of reasons why you might want to stop drinking alcohol. For some people, it’s a lifestyle change – to say goodbye to hangovers, sleep better, lose excess weight and boost energy levels.

Here at Breast Cancer UK, we encourage people to drink in moderation or avoid alcohol completely in order to reduce their risk of breast cancer. Did you know that alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer in women, and heavy drinking may increase the risk in men? In the UK, it is estimated that 8% (around 4,400) of female breast cancer cases are linked to alcohol consumption. 

Whatever your reason, the good news is that if you’re thinking about removing alcohol from your life, you’re not alone. Many people want to cut down or stop entirely. But tend to fall back and forth between binge drinking and cold turkey.  

So why not help raise money for Breast Cancer UK and get sponsored as an additional motivation while you do it? Being sponsored will help keep you motivated and committed to following through and staying alcohol-free for the month.  

You can either set up a Facebook Fundraiser and get sponsored to take on the challenge, or even make a one-off donation from the money you save from not drinking. Sign up for the Ditch the Drink challenge to receive your welcome email packed with lots of ideas to get you started! 

We have provided some great tips below to help you on your Ditch the Drink journey and change your habit into a positive one. 

*These are a few approaches and may not work for each individual. If you think you may be dependent on alcohol, you should consult your doctor or seek help from a professional organisation or charity. See the NHS for more information.  

Start slowly 

Lowering or stopping the amount of alcohol you drink is a big change. No one said it would be easy. Reward your positivity as you make slow and steady progress as you try to navigate your new change. You can keep your motivation up by giving yourself short-term goals. Aim firstly for an alcohol-free week, then an alcohol-free month, and so on. With time, you will find each milestone comes much easier.  

Tell your friends and family 

Telling your friends and family about reducing your alcohol intake may be another approach that can help you stay on track. They can help and encourage you to stay focused. This way, you can share your successes (even if a small milestone) with them, and they’ll understand why you’ve started turning down drinks on a night out or at a meal. 

Swap for a mocktail 

Having a cocktail can sometimes contain more alcohol than a spirit and mixer, as you don’t realise how fast you’re drinking these fruity concoctions. Drinking any form of alcoholic beverage, including beer, wine, cider, and spirits, increases breast cancer risk; the more you drink, the more risk increases. Making a simple change and ordering a non-alcoholic version of your friends’ cocktail, or a flavoured mocktail that’s on the menu can help you cut down on your alcohol intake – without making you feel left out. 

Avoid certain situations 

When trying to cut down or give up on alcohol, it’s always a good idea to avoid certain situations for a while. So, you aren’t tempted to drink in the early stages. Some ways to avoid these could be suggesting restaurants or places that don’t sell alcohol or for you to become the designated driver on a night out. Or it might be best to take yourself away from such situations altogether. This includes not buying alcohol for your home, opting for alcohol-free finds or other options to have around you. 

Or this could be not seeing as much of certain friends or friendship groups who are heavy drinkers, opting out of the weekly pub quiz, or even missing the after-work drinking gets-together. Or why not suggest hanging out with some friends separately instead of in a group setting?  

Identify your triggers 

Identifying the times when you would usually drink can help you a lot. Why not try filling the gap with something else? Whether you drink in a certain setting like out with friends or in the comfort of home on your own. Identifying triggers can help you lower your alcohol intake.  

This could be, for example, rather than the usual Saturday night at the pub – suggest meeting your friends at the cinema or going for a nice meal instead. Or whether it is at home you prefer you drink, identifying the routine in which you drink could help. Try mixing up your routine; have dinner at a different time, do some baking, or read a book. This is your chance to create new habits that will reduce your risk of breast cancer. You could even take up exercise or a hobby to fill your newfound time. Try a new exercise class or play a team sport instead of watching tv with a glass of wine or a trip to the pub for a new healthier you. 

Enjoy the benefits 

By cutting alcohol out of your life (or reducing your intake), you may notice a number of improvements to the way you look and feel. Start by creating a new healthy habit! By doing so you may: 

  • Reduce your risk of breast cancer 
  • Reduce your risk of numerous other cancers including liver, stomach, mouth, throat, and colon cancer. 
  • Reduce your risk of many other diseases including heart and liver disease 
  • Boost your energy levels 
  • Have better sleep 
  • Better skin 
  • Improve your general mood 
  • Lose weight 
  • Save money 

What are you waiting for sign up today? 

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