Research Group Profile: Women Alcohol and Breast Cancer Prevention

A Flinders University-led team of Australian and International researchers is studying women’s knowledge and understandings of alcohol as a risk factor for breast cancer.

Alcohol consumption is an important risk factor for breast cancer. However, we know little about the reasons and logic for alcohol consumption among Australian women in midlife particularly in relation to diversity in women’s life circumstances.

The Women, Alcohol and Breast Cancer Prevention research team is based within the Discipline of Public Health, College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University led by Professor Paul Ward. Various new projects are underway to contribute knowledge to future breast cancer prevention efforts. Specifically, they seek understanding of how perceptions of breast cancer risk is relative to the social conditions (gender, age, social class and cultural/environmental drivers) that shape women’s reasons and logic for continuing or modifying alcohol consumption.

An Australian Research Council (ARC) funded Discovery project (‘Osiris’) awarded to Professor Paul Ward and Dr Emma Miller (Public Health, Flinders University) and collaborating investigators Professor Carlene Wilson (LaTrobe University), Professor Megan Warin and Professor Ian Olver (University of Adelaide), along with international partner investigators A/Professor Samantha Meyer (University of Waterloo), Professor Paul Bissell (University of Huddersfield) and Dr Sara Macdonald (University of Glasgow) is focussing on social class, alcohol consumption and differential perceptions of breast cancer risk among women in midlife (45-64 years). Early career researcher Dr Belinda Lunnay (Public Health, Flinders University) is research associate working on the Osiris study.

Dr Lunnay was also awarded a Kickstart grant to expand the ARC Discovery research to understand how women pre-midlife (25-44 years) understand alcohol-related breast cancer risk before midlife when breast cancer risk increases with age.

Two PhD researchers have commenced doctoral projects – Mrs Jessica Thomas (Flinders Foundation Scholarship) is exploring women’s perception of breast cancer risk relative to social role quality and Mrs Kristen Foley (NHMRC scholarship) will explore the commercial determinants of alcohol consumption women are exposed to during midlife. A further PhD scholarship will begin this year to explore women’s own perceptions of breast cancer candidacy.

The research team brings together expertise in sociology, anthropology, psychology, epidemiology, oncology, health promotion and cancer prevention.

Preliminary study findings have been published in PloS one:

More information is at:



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