Why every dry day matters: Bill’s lucky to have the World Cancer Research Fund

The World Cancer Research Fund is one of Dry January’s official charity partners for 2018. They shared Bill’s story with us and why Dry January is so important.

Bill’s story

Bill Jeffrey, 83, is living proof that it’s never too late – and you’re never too old – to take the plunge and reduce your alcohol intake.

I’m lucky; they caught it in the nick of time.

Fifteen years ago, Bill was diagnosed with aggressive bowel cancer. It was a very tough time – which Bill characteristically downplays, having always continued to live life to the full. Based in Belfast, he chairs the tenants’ forum and sits on the committee of the board of a large housing association in Northern Ireland, and is an active supporter and promoter of culture and the arts, not least via his work as a literary agent. Recently he’s even taken up cycling.

At his last annual check-up Bill’s consultant gave him the great news that he wouldn’t need to see him for another five years.

Cancer did make me aware of the need to look after myself – none of us are invincible.

A well-known man about town, Bill admits that – despite his own experience of cancer – he hadn’t previously been aware of the link between drinking alcohol and increased cancer risk.

“I’d always thought of smoking as being the main cancer-causing risk. I’m a regular, social drinker,” he explains. “My work means I’m frequently at conferences, book launches and arts openings, where there’s always a glass of wine being offered to guests – wine is very much the ‘social easer’ and ice-breaker at these sorts of events. I don’t drink alone at home, but it’s also been true in the past that, at the end of a tough day, I might treat myself to a drink as a ‘de-stresser’.”

Because of this, Bill has been toying for a while with seeing if he could reduce his alcohol intake, and challenge himself to not drinking for a month, to see if it leaves him feeling healthier.

“I had a bash at giving up during October, but I failed miserably; temptation was always being put in my path,” he admits.

However, Bill currently has several neighbours who are living with cancer, and has a good friend, a poet and writer, who is a cancer survivor. So now he is determined to give Dry January his best shot.

“When I found out about Dry January through World Cancer Research Fund – who are all about helping people reduce their cancer risk through diet, weight management and physical activity – I thought it’d offer me a great chance to stay the distance for a whole month, especially with the support and resources I can call on from Alcohol Concern if I start to struggle,” he says.

“And I feel I’ll be in very good company, with over five million people having taken on the challenge last year. If I can give it a try, you can too!”

World Cancer Research Fund will be following Bill’s progress during Dry January via social media.

Why World Cancer Research Fund is partnering with Dry January

World Cancer Research Fund is supporting Dry January because they are the world’s leading authority on the link between diet, weight and physical activity and cancer; cutting down on the amount you drink can help reduce your risk of several common cancers.

World Cancer Research Fund champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that they can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

They are very proud that their ongoing cancer prevention messages around alcohol are having a noticeable effect on people’s awareness levels.  YouGov research which we commission annually shows that public awareness of the role alcohol plays in increased cancer risk has been steadily growing, from 53% in 2010 to 57% in 2016. But they want to reach more people, which is why World Cancer Research Fund is  delighted to be an official Dry January partner.

Caroline Moye, Head of World Cancer Research Fund UK said

We want to encourage more people to take part in Dry January to discover the incredible benefits of ditching the booze, and to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer risk. Our evidence shows that, for cancer prevention, it is best not to drink any alcohol. However, cutting down on the amount you drink can help to reduce your risk of several common cancers, including bowel and breast cancer. So why not give yourself a great start to 2018 and sign up for Dry January.

Want to get involved?

Download the Dry January app and start fundraising today. Together we can reduce the harm caused by alcohol.