Is there a link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer? Data is still inconclusive, but most experts urge moderation.
We’ve all seen the memes: “It’s wine o’clock”; “Mommy needs wine”; “Just one glass [gallon-sized].”
And we’ve also seen the headlines: “Even low alcohol consumption linked to breast cancer,” “One drink a day increases breast cancer risk.”
Is there a link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer?
“There’s conflicting data on alcohol and implications with cancer. There are a lot of things that are being evaluated,” said Dr. Margaret MacDowell, medical director of Trident Cancer Center. “Right now they’re more potential contributing factors rather than a cause.”
Some breast cancer experts advise women to not drink at all to avoid any alcohol-related risk. Others maintain that an occasional drink is fine.
According to breastcancer.org, studies “consistently show that drinking beer, wine or liquor increases a woman’s risk of… breast cancer by raising levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.”
This year, a report by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) says drinking just one glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer risk by 5 percent in pre-menopausal women and by 9 percent in post-menopausal women.
Compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Experts estimate that the risk of breast cancer goes up another 10 percent for each additional drink women regularly have each day.