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Breast Cancer Risk Increases with Alcohol Consumption

Breast Cancer Risk Increases with Alcohol Consumption

There are many reasons why consuming alcohol is not a smart decision. Studies have shown another reason why women should stay away from alcoholic drinks: it increases breast cancer risk. Breast cancer is the number one leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women. According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, nearly 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in 2012 worldwide and in the United States in 2017 more than 40,000 women are expected to die from the disease.

The findings of a 2015 study conducted by a team of researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine reveal that women who consumed only one alcoholic drink per day have 11-16% higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who do not drink alcohol. In this study, researchers reviewed data on exposure to alcohol in relation to breast cancer risk extracted from several human and animal studies. They found out that alcohol stimulates the development and growth of cancerous cells and tumors in the female breast. Per the authors of this research work, alcohol may exert its carcinogenic effect on the breast through its metabolites, such as acetaldehyde and reactive oxygen species (ROS), that damage DNA in cells and elevate circulating levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.

We have known of these risk for a long time. In an older study from 1994, researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Public Health examined data on alcohol intake and breast cancer risk extracted from 38 epidemiological studies. They discovered that the chances of developing breast cancer are 11% higher in women who drank alcohol than in women who avoid alcoholic beverages.

It is Not Only Heavy Drinkers Who are at Risk 

Studies have shown that even light alcohol drinkers are highly vulnerable to breast cancer. Women who want to lower their breast cancer risk should consider quitting alcohol drinking completely. Next time you are tempted to gulp a glass of your favorite beer, wine, or spirit, remember that you are harming your health and increasing your chances of becoming a victim of breast cancer.

Additional Information:

(1) Breast Cancer Statistics from World Cancer Research Fund International

(2) Drinking alcohol increases a woman's risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer

(3) Alcohol Consumption Increases Risk for Cancer

(4) Cancer and Alcohol Search on DrCarney.com

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