Drink Less … For Your Breasts – with Kathryn Elliott

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My guest this week is Kathryn Elliott who has been interviewed for a previous podcast focussing on Binge Drinking 

Kathryn and I were both heavy drinkers,  and we’ve both had breast cancer.

These days we are both sober … and passionate about empowering other women with the knowledge they need about the link between alcohol and breast cancer.

Knowledge which will make them think twice the next time they think about having a drink.

In This Episode

  • We talked about binge drinking which many of us get into when we are teenagers … and then keep the habit going until we are much older
  • For example, Kathryn was a binge drinker from the age of 15 to 46!
  • Through her work as an alcohol mindset coach, she has discovered that binge drinkers share similar traits:-

A) Started binge drinking at an early age

B) Celebrated by their peers and society for this behaviour

C) Their binge drinking is not perceived as a problem … more a rite of passage

  • We agreed that many people are unaware of the definition of binge drinking – they tend to think it’s about the kids knocking back 15 tequila shots in a nightclub but in reality, it’s more likely to be an older woman sitting at home alone drinking a bottle of wine
  • So, to be clear the definition of a binge, it’s 4 standard drinks on one occasion for a woman and 5 for a man
  • If we are binge-drinking on a regular basis, our liver will not get adequate time to recover – which is why low-risk guidelines suggest going alcohol-free for several days a week
  • Kathryn explained the psychological profile of a binge drinker – a fast drinker, without an off switch, often blacking out and unable to get control of it over many years in spite of setting rules
  • We also agreed that willpower was ineffective when trying to control binge drinking. So many of us have tried “the rules” – I’m only having 2 glasses of wine tonight, etc, but once the first glass is drunk, all the bets are off!
  • The only thing that will work is a mind shift, working on our limiting beliefs so we can see alcohol for the poison that it is
  • Kathryn and I are both breast cancer thrivers and we were equally shocked with our diagnosis – neither of us had any idea that there was a link between alcohol and breast cancer
  • Kathryn began to do her own research into the link and was shocked by what she found … also shocked as she realised that this was never a topic of conversation with her friends nor had she ever seen a health campaign highlighting this
  • She was also shocked to discover that even low to moderate amounts of alcohol will increase our risk of breast cancer – just 3 standard glasses of wine a week can increase the breast cancer risk by 15%
  • Each additional drink will add another 10% to that risk
  • During her research, Kathryn came across an American campaign called “Drink Less for your Breasts” which was impressive and had so much information
  • The research showed patterns … links between early binge drinking habits that could show up as breast cancer later on
  • Both Kathryn and I had estrogen-driven breast cancer – and alcohol does increase the amount of estrogen in the system
  • We agreed that the lifestyle choice to be alcohol-free that we have both taken feels empowering …
  • We can’t guarantee that we’ll never get a recurrence of our cancers but we can be confident that we are doing everything we can to avoid it
  • So Kathryn and I chatted about our binge drinking and our breast cancers and then moved on to our third topic which is educating corporates about the health risks of alcohol
  • Kathryn is running seminars for leaders and employees in workplaces to help them understand how alcohol impacts their emotional, mental and physical health
  • I think this kind of initiative is well overdue and certainly would have welcomed it during my corporate career which involved a work hard/play hard culture!
  • A lot of Kathryn’s clients are executives who’ve had alcohol issues which had either been enabled through the workplace or had been completely ignored
  • That prompted Kathryn to go into workplaces and approach the topic of alcohol, bringing it into a conversation about, wellness, mental health and productivity. Such a brilliant way to start an ongoing dialogue about the subject
  • She gives practical tips about taking a break from alcohol and mindful drinking as well
  • Kathryn also shares her personal story which a lot of people can relate to
  • She currently promoting a “Sip Smart” campaign for the festive season so do contact her if you think your workplace would benefit from more awareness around this topic
  • Workplaces are also getting more diverse which means a lot of employees don’t drink, so events need to be inclusive and offer a wide range of non-alcoholic drinks as well
  • I asked Kathryn whether it had been a hard sell to convince companies to let their staff watch her talks and webinars
  • She explained that so long as she’s not telling people they drink too much and/or they must quit the management is quite comfortable with her just sharing information
  • A lot of the people she talks to have no idea how harmful alcohol is … that’s something I find when we do our Masterclasses as well
  • Something which is reflected in the statistic I mentioned in the intro … only 34% of women know there is a link between drinking alcohol and breast cancer
  • We talked about the influence of leaders to role model sensible drinking to their employees
  • I shared the story of a leader from Tribe Sober – Nick was a big drinker himself but when he quit drinking the culture of the company changed – you can hear Nick’s story here
  • We ended the conversation with Kathryn’s top 3 benefits of being alcohol-free
  1. better connection with herself
  2. more energy now she’s free from worrying about alcohol
  3. living a purposeful career as she helps others to change their relationship with alcohol.

More Info

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