Unlike the good news of yesterday where moderate drinking for men may be good after suffering a heart attack, today’s news offers a grim warning to women that even one alcoholic drink a day could boost their risk for breast cancer, according to a review published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.
Alcohol has shown to increase the levels of estrogen in women, and certain types of cancers known as estrogen receptor positive cancers require the hormone to grow.
Susan Gapstur, vice president of the epidemiology research program at the American Cancer Society said “This is an update of the evidence linking alcohol to breast cancer.”
“Our guidelines say, for overall health, if you don’t drink, don’t start,” she said. “If you do, it’s best to limit your consumption to one drink a day if you are a woman,” said Dr. Gapstur.
The increase in risk for women drinking one alcoholic beverage a day is small at 5 percent, but for women who drink three or more adult beverages per day the risk can increase up to 50 percent. Researchers looked at 113 prior studies, and have attributed 50,000 breast cancer cases worldwide to heavy drinking.
For years experts have advised women to minimize their drinking, and this study appears to support earlier warnings. Women who are already at risk for breast cancer due to a family history should be especially mindful of this news.
According to Breastcancer.org one in eight women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, and in 2011 the United States saw over 230,000 new cases of the disease.
SOURCES: Susan Gapstur, Ph.D., M.P.H., vice president, epidemiology research program, American Cancer Society; March 29, 2012 Alcohol and Alcoholism.