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Does Drinking Cause Breast Cancer

Alcohol And Breast Cancer How Big Is The Risk

Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Cancer? | Dr. Ian DeRoock
  • 4 minute read

Half a glass of wine a day increases breast cancer was just one of the headlines this week, which discussed a report that reinforced the evidence that alcohol can increase a womans risk of developing breast cancer.

The report from the World Cancer Research Fund outlined the latest evidence on how we can reduce that risk focusing on weight, physical activity and drinking.

The WCRF studies all the evidence on a potential risk and decides whether its strong enough to be a basis for making recommendations to the public.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, and 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. And since we know that almost a third of breast cancer cases in the UK could be prevented, largely by changes to lifestyle, this is important stuff.

While the cause of an individuals cancer can never be certain, there are still things you can do to reduce your risk. And evidence like this is the first step to helping women to do just that.

So what exactly does the report say?

Why Is Just One Drink So Dangerous

The more alcohol we drink, the greater our breast cancer risk is. However, its not just heavy drinkers who are at an increased risk even one drink can have an impact.

One explanation for this is that when we drink alcohol, it is converted into a toxic substance called acetaldehyde. The more we drink, the more toxic acetaldehyde builds up, which means more cancer-causing damage can be done to the cells. However, even a small amount of alcohol could cause some build up of toxic acetaldehyde, which could lead to cell damage, which is why even one drink increases your risk.

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Alcohol: The Cause Of Nearly 40 000 New Breast Cancer Cases

The WHO European Region has the highest rate of new breast cancer diagnoses compared to any of the other WHO regions. According to estimates from the International Agency for Research on Cancer , in 2020 alcohol consumption was responsible for almost 40 000 new breast cancer cases in the Region.

The same data show that breast cancer has become the most common cancer globally. More than 2 million new cases were estimated in 2020, and about 100 000 of these were attributable to alcohol consumption.

Many people, including women, are not aware that breast cancer is the most common cancer caused by alcohol among women globally. People need to know that by reducing alcohol consumption they can reduce their risk of getting cancer. It doesnt matter what type, quality or price alcohol is, says Dr Marilys Corbex, Senior Technical Officer for Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO/Europe.

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Why Does Alcohol Use Raise Cancer Risk

When you drink alcohol, your body breaks it down into a chemical called acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde damages your DNA and prevents your body from repairing the damage. DNA is the cells instruction manual that controls a cells normal growth and function. When DNA is damaged, a cell can begin growing out of control and create a cancer tumor.

The Science Behind The Association Between Alcohol And Breast Cancer Risk

Does Alcohol Consumption Cause Breast Cancer Among Women ...

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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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.

How Does Alcohol Increase Your Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer

The ways in which alcohol increases the risk of developing breast cancer are not fully understood but probably include:

  • The body breaks down alcohol into a substance called acetaldehyde which can cause changes in our DNA. This can trigger a response in the body which leads to cancerous cells developing.13,14

  • Alcohol increases levels of the female hormone oestrogen high levels of oestrogen can cause vulnerable cells continually to excessively multiply and become cancerous.15

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and about 1 in 13 cases is estimated to be attributable to alcohol, yet only one-in-eight UK adults make the connection between alcohol and cancer.16

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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.

Dairy Products And Breast Cancer Risk: What To Know

What Would You Tell Your Patients About Drinking Alcohol and Breast Cancer Risk?
  • New research from Loma Linda University School of Public Health concludes daily consumption of dairy milk can increase breast cancer risk.
  • The researchers said they didnt find any increased risk for cheese or yogurt.
  • Other experts point out that previous studies have arrived at different conclusions.
  • The experts say moderation is key when it comes to consuming dairy products.

Do dairy products, particularly milk, increase the risk of breast cancer?

It might depend on the research youre reading.

A new study suggests that drinking dairy milk daily, even in small amounts, can increase your risk of getting breast cancer as much as 80 percent.

The findings from a team of researchers at Loma Linda University School of Public Health in Southern California were recently published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

We found that at relatively low doses of dairy milk, less than a cup a day, there was a steep rise in the risk of breast cancer said Gary E. Fraser, MBChB, PhD, a professor in the School of Public Health and Medicine at Loma Linda University and the studys lead author.

At a cup a day, we were seeing more than a 50 percent increase in risk, Fraser told Healthline. At 2 to 3 cups per day, the risk increased 70 percent to 80 percent.

The researchers analyzed nearly 8 years of data from 52,795 women in North America.

Their median age was 57 and about a third of them were black women.

The women answered questionnaires about their food intake.

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Can Drinking Wine Cause Breast Cancer 10 Ways For Prevention

Why does wine cause breast cancer?

How to prevent breast cancer-causing from red wine?

How can I live healthy even after drinking regularly?

Those are common questions among the wine lovers. One of our regular audience has asked forward the issue. His Question Was

Hi, I own a huge collection of red & white wine. I have bought a wine cooler as per your recommendation. I have also learned the wine TEMPERATURE fact from your buying guide. Just wondering whether bottle from inaccurate temperature can cause breast cancer?

Our team has carried out a thorough research for identifying the fact. We have brought something significant and exciting for you. We promise that will not be your wastage of time.

Avoid Triggers And Find Alternatives

If certain people, places, or situations trigger the urge to drink, avoiding those things may help a person avoid drinking or limit their alcohol consumption.

It is also important to find healthy ways to cope with feelings that may push someone to drink, which may include:

  • boredom
  • stress
  • anxiety

Investing more time in hobbies, activities, or relationships that do not involve drinking may help someone fill their time and find a sense of fulfillment outside of situations that involve alcohol.

People who enjoy the taste of alcoholic beverages may find it helpful to explore alcohol-free alternatives, such as:

  • alcohol-free soft seltzer
  • mocktails

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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

How Alcohol Is Linked To Breast Cancer

Does Drinking Cause Cancer?

Alcohol use has been linked to seven types of cancer, including the kind that affects breast tissue. Back in 1988, the International Agency for Research on Cancer IDd alcohol as a carcinogen or a substance that causes cancer.

Weve known that alcohol is a major influence on cancer risk for a really long time, says Blair Washington, M.D., M.H.A., a physician editor at MCG Health and a clinical assistant professor of gynecology at the University of Washington. But, exactly how alcohol affects your risk for breast cancer isnt really understood, she adds.

Still, experts suspect there are several ways alcohol can cause harm to breast tissue:

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Ways To Get Rid Of Breast Cancer

The top listed way to reduce the risk is to avoid drinking. Here we present the top tips to get rid of such disease-causing from drinking alcohol.

You can also try mocktail It gives you the social feel and also mitigates the risks. Try some variation in mocktail by adding different

Try freezing your favorite wine in an ice cube. Then drink it after putting into a glass of sparkling water or soda. It works like a psychological remedy.

I have also tried some gravy type grape juice in soda, and it gives a pure wine feeling. However, alcohol will not be of assistance indeed.

Another best way to trigger down and solve the other causes of breast cancer. Research suggests a woman who does exercise at least 4 hours a week reduces minimum 30% risk of breast cancer. So regular workout is highly recommended.

Reduce the overweight by implementing a balanced diet. It reduces such risks.

Eat peanuts, tomato, carrots spinach also reduces the risk of breast cancer. Be aware of overeating purine-rich foods it increases the level of uric acid which may cause gouts and psoriasis in future.

The next tip is to check your breast regularly. Thats why OCTOBER month is specially named as breast cancer awareness. Check whether there is anything lump or mess, nipple pain, and other symptoms as per

Heres what Sarah Dussault tells about Breast Cancer.

What Breakthroughs Are Coming Next

However, when it comes to dying â usually the biggest concern for those whoâve been diagnosed â thereâs not much of an association. According to epidemiologist and lead author Dr. Christopher Li, alcohol use after a breast cancer diagnosis does not increase your risk of dying of the disease.

âModeration is very important but our study supports previous studies in suggesting that the occasional glass of wine does not seem to impact a womanâs risk of dying of breast cancer,â he said.

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Whats Been The Reaction To This Report

Cancer experts say the findings dont tell us anything new about the link between alcohol and breast cancer, which is already well known.

But if you can, to stack the odds in your favour, they say it is a good idea to have some alcohol-free days during every week and not to increase your drinking.

However, Cancer Research UK says there is no need be alarmed and go teetotal.

It is also important to look at the bigger picture.

Drinking alcohol has a greater effect on the risks of several other cancers including mouth, liver and bowel than it does on breast cancer, so there is no reason to become fixated on alcohol.

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, says the risks have to be set against whatever pleasure women might obtain from their drinking.

The report does not provide absolute risks and as such, Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter, from the University of Cambridge, said it did not seem a good basis for recommending that women give up alcohol completely.

However, Dr Anne McTiernan, lead report author and cancer expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said the evidence regarding breast cancer was clear.

Having a physically active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and limiting alcohol are all steps women can take to lower their risk.

Considerations For Clinical Recommendations On Alcohol Consumption For Breast Cancer Prevention

Spread: Alcohol causes cancer. Reduce your drinking to reduce your risk.

Existing epidemiologic evidence, complemented further by studies of genetic and intermediate markers, strongly suggests that alcohol use may increase breast cancer risk. High alcohol consumption has also been associated with a number of other adverse health conditions including liver diseases such as alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis, cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and cardiomyopathy, and other cancers such as that of mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and colon . Alcohol abuse also leads to violent crimes, automobile accidents, psychiatric problems, and for a pregnant woman, increases the risk of birth defects . However, modest alcohol consumption has been consistently associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease . In a recent meta-analysis, among women, current drinkers had a 29% reduced risk of CHD incidence and a 21% reduced risk of CHD mortality compared to non-current drinkers .

Prevalence of alcohol consumption among US women, by Race and Ethnicity

Prevalence of alcohol consumption among US women 20 years and older stratified by race-ethnicity and age group . Definitions: Non-current drinkers, ⤠12 drinks in the past 12 months Moderate drinkers, > 12 drinks but ⤠7 drinks/week in the past 12 months heavy drinkers, > 7 drinks/week in the past 12 months.

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Wine Vs Breast Cancer

A recent study looked at moderate drinkers alcohol intake and correlated it to their relative risk of cancer. The study showed that the relative risk of cancer increased for women drinkers from anywhere from 59% and everyone got scared .

What the study didnt do though, was separate out the different types of alcohol and show relative risks for each type. After the study came out it received a great deal of rigorous critique from the science community and members from the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research crunched the numbers:


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