21 February 2020 In General Health

This article explores the contentious definition and communication of alcohol consumption limits and their relationship to ideas about risk through an analysis of the development of health education materials during the 1980s.

It argues that changing ideas about alcohol and risk, and their communication to the public, were a reflection of both specific developments in thinking about alcohol and the harm it could pose as well as broader shifts within public health policy, practice and outlook.

Risk was understood as something experienced by individuals and populations, a conceptual framing that suggested different approaches. To get to grips with these issues, the article focuses on: (1) the definition of alcohol consumption limits; (2) the communication of these limits; and (3) the limits to limits.

The problems experienced in defining and communicating limits suggests not only a ‘limit to limits’ but also to the entire notion of risk-based ‘sensible’ drinking as a strategy for health education.

26 February 2019 In Cancer

PURPOSE: Breast cancer (BC) risk prediction allows systematic identification of individuals at highest and lowest risk. We extend the Breast and Ovarian Analysis of Disease Incidence and Carrier Estimation Algorithm (BOADICEA) risk model to incorporate the effects of polygenic risk scores (PRS) and other risk factors (RFs).

METHODS: BOADICEA incorporates the effects of truncating variants in BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, CHEK2, and ATM; a PRS based on 313 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) explaining 20% of BC polygenic variance; a residual polygenic component accounting for other genetic/familial effects; known lifestyle/hormonal/reproductive RFs; and mammographic density, while allowing for missing information.

RESULTS: Among all factors considered, the predicted UK BC risk distribution is widest for the PRS, followed by mammographic density. The highest BC risk stratification is achieved when all genetic and lifestyle/hormonal/reproductive/anthropomorphic factors are considered jointly. With all factors, the predicted lifetime risks for women in the UK population vary from 2.8% for the 1st percentile to 30.6% for the 99th percentile, with 14.7% of women predicted to have a lifetime risk of >/=17-<30% (moderate risk according to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [NICE] guidelines) and 1.1% a lifetime risk of >/=30% (high risk).

CONCLUSION: This comprehensive model should enable high levels of BC risk stratification in the general population and women with family history, and facilitate individualized, informed decision-making on prevention therapies and screening.

26 February 2019 In Cancer

BACKGROUND: We aimed to understand the factors shaping alcohol consumption patterns in middle-aged women (45-64), and to identify participant-driven population- and policy-level strategies that may be used to addresses alcohol consumption and reduce breast cancer risk.

METHODS: Semi-structured interviews (n = 35) were conducted with 'middle-aged' women conversant in English and living in South Australia with no history of breast cancer diagnosis. Data were deductively coded using a co-developed framework including variables relevant to our study objectives. Women were asked about their current level of awareness of the association between alcohol and breast cancer risk, and their personal recommendations for how to decrease consumption in middle-aged Australian women.

RESULTS: Women discussed their previous efforts to decrease consumption, which we drew on to identify preliminary recommendations for consumption reduction. We identified a low level of awareness of alcohol and breast cancer risk, and confusion related to alcohol as a risk for breast cancer, but not always causing breast cancer. Participants suggested that education and awareness, through various means, may help to reduce consumption.

CONCLUSIONS: Participants' description of strategies used to reduce their own consumption lead us to suggest that campaigns might focus on the more salient and immediate effects of alcohol (e.g. on physical appearance and mental health) rather than longer-term consequences. Critical considerations for messaging include addressing the personal, physical and social pleasures that alcohol provides, and how these may differ across socio-demographics.

22 February 2019 In Cancer

PURPOSE: Breast cancer (BC) risk prediction allows systematic identification of individuals at highest and lowest risk. We extend the Breast and Ovarian Analysis of Disease Incidence and Carrier Estimation Algorithm (BOADICEA) risk model to incorporate the effects of polygenic risk scores (PRS) and other risk factors (RFs).

METHODS: BOADICEA incorporates the effects of truncating variants in BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, CHEK2, and ATM; a PRS based on 313 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) explaining 20% of BC polygenic variance; a residual polygenic component accounting for other genetic/familial effects; known lifestyle/hormonal/reproductive RFs; and mammographic density, while allowing for missing information.

RESULTS: Among all factors considered, the predicted UK BC risk distribution is widest for the PRS, followed by mammographic density. The highest BC risk stratification is achieved when all genetic and lifestyle/hormonal/reproductive/anthropomorphic factors are considered jointly. With all factors, the predicted lifetime risks for women in the UK population vary from 2.8% for the 1st percentile to 30.6% for the 99th percentile, with 14.7% of women predicted to have a lifetime risk of >/=17-<30% (moderate risk according to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [NICE] guidelines) and 1.1% a lifetime risk of >/=30% (high risk).

CONCLUSION: This comprehensive model should enable high levels of BC risk stratification in the general population and women with family history, and facilitate individualized, informed decision-making on prevention therapies and screening.

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