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Interview: Chief Executive NZ Breast Cancer Foundation

Liam Butler interviews Evangelia Henderson Chief Executive New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.

09 January 2015

Liam Butler

Evangelia leads the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation's operations and revenue generating initiatives. She does this through fundraising and mobilising wide supporter networks that enable the ongoing funding of services and programmes into public education and awareness, medical research , medical support and development , advocacy and community outreach programme delivery for women suffering from breast cancer.

Question One

Evangelia why is the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation wanting people to sign a petition to get free mammogram screening extended to age 74, from the current upper age limit of 69?

The NZBCF wants people to sign the petition for extending the age range of free mammograms from 69 years to 74 years. This is because the risk of breast cancer increases with age and in your 70s the risk is greater than in your 50s. Older women are led to believe, incorrectly, that because it is no longer offered free, they ‘must' be at low risk after 70. It is also true that older women usually have lower disposable incomes and less able to afford private mammograms. You can read more about the petition, and download the form to sign, here

Question Two

The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation has recently highlighted research that warns that if you drink more than one glass of an alcoholic drink every day, you will increase your risk by approximately 10% for each additional drink per day. Evangelia, as Breast Cancer affects 1 in 9 women in their lifetime and more than 600 New Zealand women die of the disease every year do you think it's time to change how we are drinking and if so how should we change?

A study published in 2014 from Canterbury University suggests around 4% of breast cancers in NZ are caused by alcohol consumption, and a woman who drinks 3-5 alcoholic drinks a day has a 30% higher risk of developing breast cancer than a non-drinker.

Evidence that alcohol consumption heightens the risk of breast cancer has been known for a long time, yet in New Zealand, our drinking behaviour hasn't changed, in fact it is increasing, especially among women. This trend is alarming and we should be promoting to lower alcohol consumption preventative health issue as a matter of urgency. Having alcohol- free days is important, and it's a good idea to avoid more than one glass per day. We'd love your readers to pass this message on to their daughters and granddaughters, who are setting up the habits of a lifetime. Alcohol consumption, together with increased body weight after menopause and lack of physical exercise, could account for up to 20% of breast cancers diagnosed in New Zealand - that's up to 600 cases a year.

Question Three

As the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation does not receive any government funding how can organisations and individuals learn about how they can get involved and support the foundation's work?

Our mission is to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in New Zealand and improve the quality of life of those affected. Please go to our website and click on ‘Get involved'. You'll find all kinds of ways you can help out, from making a donation or becoming a regular donor, to hosting a Pink Ribbon breakfast in May. There are ideas for community fundraisers, how to get involved in our October events, and how to remember the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation in your will.

For more stories like this go to the Eldernet Gazette

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