Just one drink a day increases chances of breast cancer

Friday, 30 March 2012 10:57 AM

Just one drink per day can increase the chance of breast cancer by five per cent, research has found.

Even if you drink with the UK government’s recommended guidelines, for women safe drinking is 14 units a week, which is one small glass of wine a day, you’re still putting yourself a risk, according to the latest research.

And, heavy alcohol consumption, defined as three or more drinks a day, was found to have a 40 to 50 per cent increased risk of breast cancer.

Overall, drinking alcohol accounts for roughly five per cent of breast cancers in Northern Europe and North America and up to ten per cent in countries such as Italy and France, where drinking alcohol is common among women.

In Europe and the U.S., breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Several population studies have also shown that women have a high prevalence of light drinking.

This represents a major health issue in terms of breast cancers and the western world.

Alcohol consumption has been acknowledged as a risk factor for the development of cancer in various organs of the body for quite some years and an association between alcohol and breast cancer has been established since the 1980s.

The analysis of many studies by Helmut Seitz and Carlo La Vecchia found a modest but significant association between light drinking and breast cancer. The estimate was based on the results of more than one hundred studies and found a small increase in risk, in the order of five per cent.

The review also found that each increased alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer.

Cancer of the female breast is slightly different to other body organ cancers as even small doses of alcohol can stimulate breast cancer development.

As alcohol consumption might affect the risk of cancer through hormone related mechanisms, the review published in Alcohol and Alcoholism particularly looked at the association between alcohol consumption and the risk of breast cancer through hormone-related mechanisms such as oestrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) status.

The researchers found that there was significant research to suggest that alcohol consumption increased the risk of all oestrogen related tumours by 27 per cent.

Futher investigations by the team found further an even stronger association between heavy drinking and oestrogen based breast cancers.

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