National Health Guidelines For Alcohol
UK national health guidelines recommend that women drink no more than 14 units a week.;
This is the equivalent of six pints of lower-strength beer or six 175ml glasses of wine a week.;
If you can, spread your drinks over a few days and have days off drinking each week.;
Theres still a risk of breast cancer associated with this level of drinking. However, you can get breast cancer even if you do not drink, and it can be a useful limit to stick to when beginning to cut down.
Can Drinking Alcohol Increase The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Moderation is key. One drink per day has been shown to slightly increase the risk of breast cancer. Having more than one drink per day has shown to be a more significant risk factor, and the alcohol content doesnt matter: wine, beer or a mixed drink. Alcohol also increases estrogen in your bloodstream.
Although we know that more than one drink per day increases risks, to date there are no studies that demonstrate directly that the more a person drinks, the greater their risk for cancer. And in some cases, drinking one glass of wine a day can offer heart-health benefit. If you drink alcohol, this is an important topic to discuss with your doctor so that you will know what limits are best for you to observe.
Questions And Conflicting Advice
For survivors like Feuerman, parsing all the advice on cancer risk can be frustrating.
âI did all the jazz that they say reduces your risk,â she said. âI breastfed both of my kids, exercised my whole life. I donât have a history of cancer in my family. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I thought it must be too much drinking. Although, there are plenty of people who drink heavily their entire lives and they never get cancer.â
Feuerman even asked an oncologist at Stanford about the connection when she went for a second opinion.
âI told her I drank a couple of drinks five times a week and she said, âThatâs not that impressive.ââ
On the private breast cancer Facebook group Beyond the Pink Moon, survivors reported conflicting advice from their health care providers. Some said their oncologists told them to abstain completely while others said their doctors encouraged them to drink moderately as a way to reduce stress and the long-term side effects of treatment.
Shell Cedrone, a 34-year-old breast cancer patient from Dover, New Hampshire, joked about all the advice survivors are given.
âIf we all stopped eating, drinking or using everything that supposedly causes breast cancer, we’d smell horrible until we starved to death,â she said.
Lately, though, sheâs started to think about cutting back to one drink a day or less.
Don’t Miss: How Does Metastatic Breast Cancer Start
What Do We Recommend
There are several things that women can do to help reduce their breast cancer risk. Arguably the most important of these is to avoid drinking alcohol, or reduce alcohol intake. With drinking alcohol being such an ingrained part of so many cultures worldwide, it is vital that we raise awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer. We also know that it increases the risk of a number of other cancers.
Maintaining a healthy weight and getting enough exercise are also important for preventing breast cancer. It may be the most common cancer in women worldwide, but our evidence shows that there are steps that women can take to significantly reduce their risk. If everyone were to follow our recommendations a substantial number of cases of breast cancer could be prevented worldwide each year.
How Much Alcohol Is Safe
Researchers vary in their definition of safe drinking when it comes to cancer. Moderate drinking is often defined as one alcoholic drink a day for women, or two a day for men. Sticking to these guidelines will keep most people clear of alcohol use disorder. But when it comes to breast cancer, could a glass of wine a day still be one too many?
This ultimately depends on the individual. If you already know that you are at high risk for breast cancer, you may want to avoid alcohol for the most part. If you dont carry many risk factors for cancer, but have a family history of heart disease, a daily drink may actually have some positive impact.
The relationship of alcohol to womens health is complex. Moderate drinking appears to increase levels of estrogen, for example. This can in turn increase breast cancer risk, especially before menopause. But this also means that alcoholic beverages which do less to boost estrogen, such as red wine, might not be so risky. And for older women, the health benefits of increased estrogen may outweigh the negatives.
The decision about how much alcohol is healthy for you depends on many factors. At the end of the day, the more you know about your personal health and your family history, the better youll be able to decide.
Recommended Reading: Does Stress Cause Breast Cancer
Alcohol And Breast Cancer
The relationship between alcohol and breast cancer is clear: drinking alcoholic beverages, including wine, beer, or liquor, is a risk factor for breast cancer, as well as some other forms of cancer. Drinking alcohol causes more than 100,000 cases of breast cancer worldwide every year.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has declared that there is sufficient scientific evidence to classify alcoholic beverages a Group 1 carcinogen that causes breast cancer in women. Group 1 carcinogens are the substances with the clearest scientific evidence that they cause cancer, such as smoking tobacco.
A woman drinking an average of two units of alcohol per day has 8% higher risk of developing breast cancer than a woman who drinks an average of one unit of alcohol per day. Even light consumption of alcohol one to three drinks per week increases the risk of breast cancer.
Heavy drinkers are also more likely to die from breast cancer than non-drinkers and light drinkers. Also, the more alcohol a woman consumes, the more likely she is to be diagnosed with a recurrence after initial treatment.
How Does The Combination Of Alcohol And Tobacco Affect Cancer Risk
Epidemiologic research shows that people who use both alcohol and tobacco have much greater risks of developing cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx , larynx, and esophagus than people who use either alcohol or tobacco alone. In fact, for oral and pharyngeal cancers, the risks associated with using both alcohol and tobacco are multiplicative; that is, they are greater than would be expected from adding the individual risks associated with alcohol and tobacco together .
You May Like: Where Does Breast Cancer Usually Spread
Does Drinking Alcohol Increase Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
May 3, 2021
Interview with BCPP Chief Scientist Dr. Sharima Rasanayagam by Volunteer Andrea Dannenberg;
I know, you dont want me to say it. You enjoy wine with dinner. And those Happy Hour cocktails. I get it: drinking is a huge part of our culture. And maybe youre someone who is drinking more during the pandemic. But, whats the health cost? I sat down with BCPPs Director of Science Dr. Sharima Rasanayagam to discuss drinking alcohol and breast cancer risk. Check out our short video where she explains why drinking increases breast cancer risk and how we can all reduce that risk. See full video transcript below.
See the full video transcript below.;
Our latest Factsheet summarizes the links between drinking alcohol and breast cancer risk. BCPPs Paths to Prevention: The California Breast Cancer Primary Prevention Plan identifies alcohol consumption as one of 23 risk factors for developing breast cancer. When comparing drinkers to non-drinkers, studies found a 22% increased risk of breast cancer for those who drink. Another study estimated that 8% of breast cancer diagnoses are due to alcohol consumption. The research is also pretty clear that the more we drink, the greater our breast cancer risk. You can read more about the research in the Glossary of Exposures page on Alcohol. Here are some;tips;to;consider;to reduce;breast cancer risk;from alcohol for yourself and those;you love.
Are There Any Health Benefits From Drinking Alcohol
You may have heard that drinking alcohol can be good for the heart. But the NHS alcohol guidelines say that the evidence is not clear and that there is no completely safe level of drinking. You should not drink alcohol for health benefits. The risk of cancer increases even drinking small amounts of alcohol.
For more information about alcohol and heart health visit the;British Heart Foundations website.
Recommended Reading: Does Red Wine Cause Breast Cancer
Alcohol Use During And After Cancer Treatment
Many studies have found a link between alcohol use and the risk of developing certain cancers. But it is not clear whether alcohol use after treatment might increase the risk of these cancers coming back . In theory, its possible that alcohol use might raise the risk of recurrence. For example, alcohol can increase the levels of estrogens in the body, which might increase the risk for breast cancer recurrence. But there is no strong evidence from studies to support this.
In people who have already been diagnosed with cancer, alcohol intake could also affect the risk of developing a new cancer.
There are some cases during cancer treatment in which alcohol clearly should be avoided. For example, alcohol even in very small amounts can irritate mouth sores caused by some cancer treatments, and can even make them worse. Alcohol can also interact with some drugs used during cancer treatment, which might increase the risk of harmful side effects. Its important to talk with your doctor about this if you are being treated for cancer.
But for people who have completed cancer treatment, the effects of alcohol on cancer recurrence risk are largely unknown. Its important to discuss this with your doctor. Factors that can be important include:;
- The type of cancer
Reasons Why Alcohol Increases Cancer Risk
Researchers are still trying to discover why alcohol increases cancer risk. Here are some possibilities:
The increased risk may be related to 2 chemicals that can damage the DNA of healthy cells:
Ethanol, which is the primary part of alcoholic beverages
Acetaldehyde, which is made when alcohol is digested by the body
Alcohol may affect the breakdown of the hormone estrogen, which increases the amount of estrogen in the blood. Having more estrogen in the body than usual is a risk factor for breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers. This is a particular concern for women before menopause and women taking menopausal hormone therapy.
Drinking alcohol may weaken the bodys ability to process and absorb important nutrients, including:
Alcohol can cause weight gain, which also increases cancer risk.
Recommended Reading: What Does Breast Cancer Cause
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.
With Women Drinking More Alcohol Experts Worry About The Effect On Cancer Risk
Conflicting findings on the effects of alcohol may have you scratching your head. On the one hand, research suggests that low to moderate drinking may lower the risk of heart disease in some people. On the other hand, there is evidence that drinking even small amounts of alcohol is associated with an increased risk of liver disease, memory loss, brain damage and certain types of cancer, including head and neck, liver, esophageal, colorectal;and, especially, breast;cancer. But the research largely agrees on one key point: Alcohols negative effects harm women more than men, which is especially worrisome considering other trends that show women today are drinking more than ever.
Its problematic because women have heard that drinking some alcohol may help them prevent cardiovascular risk. But its more important for them to know that even four drinks a week can increase their risk of breast cancer.– Anthony Perre, MD, Chief, CTCA Division of Outpatient Medicine
Read Also: Are Breast Cancer Tumors Hard Or Soft
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.
Alcohol And Breast Cancer Risk: What To Know
Can as little as one alcoholic drink a day raise your breast cancerrisk? Our experts weigh in.
Can as little as one alcoholic drink a day raise your breast cancer risk?
Studies say yes. But does that mean you should steer clear of alcohol completely? And what about that glass of wine thats supposed to be good for you?
Alcoholic drinks come in three choices: beer, wine and liquor. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor. If you choose to drink, exceeding the recommended limit of one alcoholic drink a day increases your breast cancer risk.
But that risk is very low, says Therese Bevers, medical director of MD Andersons;Cancer Prevention Center. You need to be more concerned if it becomes a routine in which you drink more than one drink each day.
More than 100 studies have looked at the association between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk in women. These studies, although observational meaning they draw on inferences from researchers – have consistently found an increased risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol intake.
We always question the validity of observational data, but with this were seeing it over and over again, Bevers says.
And while some studies show that one glass of wine a day can be good for your heart, you shouldnt have more if youre trying to stay healthy.
How does alcohol affect breast cancer risk?
So, why does alcohol intake increase breast cancer risk specifically?
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.