Can Drinking Alcohol Cause Breast Cancer
Regularly drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing breast cancer.
- The more you drink, the greater your risk
- Just one alcoholic drink a day can increase your risk, although you can still develop breast cancer even if you do not drink
- To reduce your risk of breast cancer, limit the amount of alcohol you drink
The earlier in your life you start to reduce your drinking, the better.
Reducing your drinking can also help improve your general health and wellbeing, as well as reducing your risk of other cancers and diseases.
How Alcohol Increases Cancer Risk
Alcoholic drinks contain ethanol, which irritates your bodys cells. Over a prolonged period of time , this cell irritation can lead to cancer. Alcohol can damage the lining of the mouth and throat causing cancer in these parts of the body. Alcohol can also impact the levels of hormones that are linked to breast cancer. And when alcohol is digested it can break down into compounds that cause bowel cancer. Your risk of getting cancer increases with every alcoholic drink you consume.
To find out your cancer risk, take the Cancer Risk Quiz.
Other Harmful Soda Ingredients
The non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest went as far as to request that the Food and Drug Administration ban the use of artificial caramel coloring.
Some studies also link sodas artificial sweeteners, like acesulfame-potassium, with cancer. Aspartame is a popular sweetener used in diet sodas. It is also connected with leukemia, lymphomas, and breast cancer. The phosphoric acid in soda may also speed up the aging process and lead to osteoporosis and kidney damage.
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How To Reduce The Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer From Drinking Alcohol
Just drinking a few drinks each week increases your risk of breast cancer.17 If you do choose to drink alcohol, it is best to drink within the UK Chief Medical Officers low risk drinking guidelines and to spread your drinking throughout the week, incorporating several drink-free days.
As well as reducing your drinking, being active, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and eating a balanced diet, can all help to reduce your risk of developing several types of cancer, including breast cancer.
What About Exercise And Diet
When it comes to exercise, the report found that doing more vigorous exercise, like cycling or running, cut the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer by 10% compared to the least active women.
Breastfeeding was also found to lower the risk of the disease before and after the menopause.
And there was limited evidence that eating more leafy vegetables, such as cabbage, spinach and kale, decreased the risk of a less common kind of breast cancer.
We already know that regular physical exercise, eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight are important for reducing the risk of lots of diseases, including cancers.
But scientists say all these factors interact with each other and that makes it difficult to tease out which ones are driving the cancer and to what extent.
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/6dairy Milk Intake May Up Breast Cancer Risk
What may come as a shocking revelation to women who love to consume milk, even moderate amounts of dairy milk can cause breast cancer in women. The risk can be as high as 80 per cent depending on the amount consumed. The research made some scary revelations, which said, by drinking up to one cup per day, the associated risk went up to 50 per cent, and for those drinking two to three cups per day, the risk increased further to 70 per cent to 80 per cent, the researchers said.
What Are The Guidelines For Alcohol Use
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 20202025,external icon recommend that if you drink alcohol at all, drink in moderationno more than one drink a day for women, and no more than two drinks a day for men. If you dont drink, dont start drinking because of any possible health benefits.
Dont drink at all if you
- Are under the legal drinking age.
- Are pregnant or may be pregnant.
- Have health problems that could be made worse by drinking.
- Are doing things like driving that could be dangerous with alcohol.
Its safest not to drink if you are on any medication, including cancer treatment.external icon If youre taking prescription medicine, ask your doctor if its safe before drinking alcohol.
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Alcohol And Cancer Recurrence
In studies of breast cancer survivors, moderate alcohol use was not shown to increase the risk of recurrence. Recurrence is the return of the cancer. Additionally, moderate alcohol use was not shown to lower the survival rates.
Similar information about other types of cancers is limited. However, it is probably still best to avoid heavy drinking after a cancer diagnosis because of the link to cancer risk.
Studies also show that head and neck cancer survivors who continue to drink are at an increased risk of recurrence. This is especially true with moderate to heavy drinking.
If you are a cancer survivor, talk with your doctor about how much alcohol you drink and the effect it could have on your long-term health.
The information in this article is based on Alcohol and Cancer: A Statement of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, found on ASCOs website.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Breast Cancer
Cut back on alcohol: When it comes to alcohol and reducing your risk of breast cancer, no amount of alcohol is completely risk-free but the less you drink the lower the risk.
Be active: Exercise and physical activity reduces the risk of breast cancer.
Stay a healthy weight: Staying a healthy weight is especially important in reducing the risk of breast cancer after the menopause as well as reducing the risk of other cancers.
Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding lowers the risk of developing breast cancer. The longer you breastfeed the more the risk is reduced.
Get screened: BreastCheck is the national breast screening programme. All women aged 50 to 64 are invited to have a free mammogram every 2 years. For more information see www.breastcheck.ie
Why South Africa Banned Booze And What Happened Next
What that means is that nations in those areas of Africa should be thinking now about strategies to control drinking. “Currently, only 16 of 46 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have national alcohol strategies,” says Rumgay.
Those strategies could include increasing taxes on alcohol and adding cancer warning labels to alcohol similar to warnings now on cigarette packages.
While such public policies are effective and necessary, says Dr. Amy Justice, professor of medicine and public health at Yale University, we need to go further. Justice wrote a commentary in Lancet Oncology accompanying the alcohol-related cancer study. She agrees with the authors that the results are, if anything, an understatement of the impact of alcohol on cancer cases. And she has suggestions to reduce the burden of alcohol-related cancers that go beyond governmental action.
“I’m a doctor,” she says. And as a physician, she thinks about the things she can say individually to a patient, one on one, to encourage them to reduce their drinking. “There’s pretty good data that you can get people to decrease their alcohol consumption with brief motivational information,” she said.
That might mean teaching doctors around the world to talk about alcohol use as a possible cause when a patient complains of sleep or memory problems or when they have the beginning signs of liver disease. “You tailor the information to the personal concerns of the patient in front of you,” says Justice.
Does The Amount Of Alcohol Make A Difference
In general, studies have found that the more you drink regularly over time, the higher your chances of having breast cancer. If youre a woman and you have three drinks per week, your odds are 15% higher than a woman who doesnt drink at all. And this risk goes up an estimated 10% for each extra drink per week.
But what exactly is a drink? In the U.S., a standard drink is defined as about 14 grams of alcohol. This is equal to:
- 1.5 ounces of liquor
- 5 ounces of wine
- 12 ounces of beer
But everyone is different. Your individual risk may be higher or lower because of your genes, your race, if youve ever been pregnant, if youve been exposed to chemicals, and many other things.
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What Does This Report Say
It says there are ways women can lower their risk of breast cancer by focusing on factors they can control, like diet, weight and exercise.
After analysing more than 100 studies that examined the medical history of 12 million women, the report backs up current advice to be aware of alcohol consumption.
The report found evidence that drinking an extra small glass of wine every day increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer after the menopause by 9%.
What The Research Says About The Link Between Alcohol And Breast Cancer
Besides maybe soy, I dont think any food or beverage causes more controversy or confusion than alcohol.
Heres the bottom line:
Theres strong evidence that alcohol consumption increases the risk of an initial diagnosis for both pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer.
But you and I, my dear reader, have already been diagnosed, treated and recovered from breast cancer. Were classified as survivors, eh?
What about us?
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Recommendations For Alcohol Use
There is no proven way to completely prevent cancer. However, there are steps you can take to lower your alcohol-related risk:
Limit the number of alcoholic beverages you drink. For women, limit it to no more than 1 drink a day. For men, limit it to no more than 1 to 2 drinks a day. A drink is defined as:
12 ounces or 341 milliliters of beer
5 oz or 142 ml of wine
1.5 oz or 43 ml of 80-proof liquor
This is the definition of moderate drinking. You can view a table that summarizes what counts as a standard drink. Please note this link takes you to a separate website. Women concerned about their breast cancer risk may want to further limit their alcohol intake to no more than 3 to 4 drinks a week.
Do not binge drink or drink heavily. For women, heavy drinking means having 4 or more drinks in a short period. For men, it means having 5 or more drinks. Binge drinking may increase your risk for certain cancers, even if you do not binge drink often.
Do not make an exception for red wine. There is no clear evidence that drinking red wine helps to prevent cancer. Thus, the current recommended limits also apply to red wine.
Avoid using both alcohol and tobacco products. The combination further increases the risks of developing certain cancers. These include cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus.
Talk with your doctor if you are taking menopausal hormone therapy. Combined with alcohol, this may further increase the risk of some cancers, such as breast cancer.
The Science Behind The Association Between Alcohol And Breast Cancer Risk
While research has established that alcohol increases breast cancer risk, scientists are still working to understand the mechanism behind this link. However, there are several theories.
We know that alcohol increases the amount of estrogen in the body, and for women and particularly postmenopausal women, that has a role in developing hormone-sensitive breast cancer, explained Dr. Megan Kruse, a medical breast oncologist at Cleveland Clinic who is not involved with the ARG campaign.
Alcohol also makes it more difficult for the body to absorb folate and other nutrients. Folate is important because it helps to fix and maintain your DNA, Martinez said. When your DNA isnt properly maintained its more likely to be damaged and cells that have damaged DNA are more likely to be cancerous.
Kruse notes another cause for concern is that alcohol tends to increase an individuals caloric intake.
We know that theres a link between weight gain, particularly extra tissue related to fat cells, and cancers, she said. So when you think of alcohol leading to extra calories and weight gain, that might be an indirect way that its contributing to cancer formation.
In addition to breast cancer, alcohol consumption is linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, and colon and rectum, according to the American Cancer Society.
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Australians Need The Facts About Alcohol And Cancer
Alcohol is legal and it is the most commonly used drug in Australia.
People over the age of 18 years choose to consume it or not.
Consumers of any product should be fully aware of the risks associated with it to make an informed decision.
Yet, with research showing that many Australians dont have all the facts about alcohol and cancer, how can anyone accurately consider the risks?3,4
The facts about alcohol and cancer are relevant for everyone. Cancer will affect the lives of most Australians in some way, whether they battle the disease themselves or support a friend or family member through their fight.
Breast cancer alone one of the most common cancers for women will be diagnosed in an estimated 19,807 Australian women and 167 Australian men in 2020.5
Thankfully, cancer awareness including awareness of risk factors is increasing largely due to the efforts of a huge range of people and organisations including survivors, grieving friends and family, charities and research bodies, governments and private businesses.
Efforts to raise awareness by organisations like Cancer Council Victoria are underway, and the messages need to be heard by all Australians.
However, the alcohol industrys efforts to leverage cancer awareness may be confusing public health messages about the cancer risks of alcohol.
How Alcohol Raises Breast Cancer Risk
Alcohol increases the risk of several medical illnesses , as well as many types of cancer .
According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, alcoholic beverages are considered to be carcinogens . In addition to causing cancer, alcohol facilitates cancer growth when cancer has already started.
Alcohol promotes the initiation and growth of cancer through several mechanisms, including:
- Liver disease: Alcohol often leads to liver failure. The liver is involved with many physiological functions, including maintaining healthy immunity. Because the immune system helps fight cancer, liver impairment can give cancer a greater chance of enlarging and spreading.
- Oxidative stress: Alcohol metabolism increases oxidative stress, a byproduct of normal metabolism that induces damage to DNA, which can initiate cancer.
- Breakdown of tissue: Alcohol consumption results in toxic byproducts that break down tissues throughout the body. If a person has cancer, the breakdown of epithelial tissue facilitates metastasis of cancer.
In addition to these general carcinogenic effects, alcohol raises the risk of breast cancer specifically by increasing estrogen levels, especially estradiol and estrone. Higher estrogen levels elevate the risk of breast cancer, and chronic or irregular exposure to elevated estrogen can have a lasting effect on breast cancer risk, increasing the chances of developing the disease years down the road.
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Do I Have To Stop Drinking After A Breast Cancer Diagnosis
No. You dont have to do anything you dont want to do.
Some thoughts from the breast cancer trenches re: drink/dont drink:
- Life is short. Drink the wine.
- Life is precious. Live it up and enjoy it.
- I wont miss out on all the things I love.
- I want to enjoy life and that means drinking.
- It doesnt matter whether you drink or not. Some people never drink and get cancer. Some drink a lot and dont get it. I dont believe the studies.
People have strong opinions about their alcohol! And theyre entitled to them.
But please know this:
Alcohol is carcinogenic.
To reduce risk of an initial breast cancer diagnosis, there is no safe level of alcohol intake. Theres a risk relationship between alcohol and breast cancer, even at low levels of consumption.
The World Cancer Research Funds alcohol and cancer report indicates a confirmed link between alcohol consumption and pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer initial diagnosis.
What Should You Drink Instead Of Cola
The best beverage you can drink is water. The general recommendation is eight to 10 glasses of filtered water every day, depending on your diet, age, and physical activity level. I have a 22 oz. water bottle that I refill four or five times each day!
A soda habit can be hard to kick, but you will crave fewer cans of soda after including more vegetables, fruits, and whole foods in your diet. I often make smoothies and cold-pressed juices using fresh, organic vegetables and fruits. Homemade juices and smoothies are perfect alternatives to sodaand theyre guilt-free. I recommend you consume at least one homemade juice or smoothie a day, in addition to maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
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Yes Drinking Alcohol Can Increase Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
- A strong body of scientific evidence shows alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer.
- Many women remain unaware of the role alcohol can play in breast cancer risk.
- The Alcohol Research Group in California is working to change that with the #DrinkLessForYourBreasts initiative, which seeks to educate women about the risk.
- No amount of alcohol is considered safe, but smaller amounts of alcohol have minimal risk.
For decades, researchers have been studying the connection between alcohol use and breast cancer, and a strong body of evidence shows drinking ups the risk.
Despite this work, many women in the United States remain unaware that drinking habits could affect their chance of getting cancer.
A new campaign from the Alcohol Research Group in California aims to change that. The #DrinkLessForYourBreasts initiative seeks to educate women about the risk and urges them to consider the impact drinking alcohol can have on their health.
The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness among young women that alcohol is a risk factor for breast cancer, Priscilla Martinez, PhD, a scientist with ARG, told Healthline.
There is 30 years worth of evidence supporting this so were pretty confident that this relationship is real. But the vast majority of young women have no idea that alcohol is a risk factor for breast cancer.
study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports found that only 25 percent of women ages 15 to 44 were aware of this connection.