A newly published review of research reveals that even one alcoholic drink a day can boost a woman’s risk of breast cancer by as much as five percent.
Scientists from three leading European countries reported that heavier drinking, which they defined as having three or more drinks a day can increase risk up to 50 percent.
The findings attributed some two percent of breast cancer cases in Europe and North America to light drinking alone, and about 50,000 cases worldwide to heavy drinking.
“The research seems to confirm the expert advice for women to minimize drinking,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance. Critical illness insurance pays a cash, lump sum benefit upon diagnosis of a critical illness such as cancer.
Healthy women at average risk of breast cancer should not consume more than one alcoholic drink a day, the study’s authors said. The connection between breast cancer and alcohol was first suggested in the early 1980s, the researchers noted. To update the research, they searched for more than 3,400 studies and narrowed their focus to 113 that examined the effects of light drinking on breast cancer risk.
Scientists note that alcohol is thought to increase estrogen levels, in turn, perhaps, increasing the risk of breast cancer. Several studies have found alcohol more strongly linked to cancers known as estrogen receptor positive, which require estrogen to grow.
Seitz said the team’s research controlled for various other factors that might affect risk, such as obesity.
The American Cancer Society guidelines say, for overall health, if you don’t drink, don’t start. If you do, it’s best to limit your consumption to one drink a day if you are a woman.
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