Alcohol Increases Breast Cancer Risk

alcohol increases breast cancer risk

You most probably know that alcohol is harmful to your health. But did you know alcohol (even when taken in moderate amounts) can increase your risk of getting diagnosed with breast cancer? According to a recent study, there is a direct link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer.

The study led by Dr. Kevin D. analyzes the relation between alcohol and breast cancer from three perspectives. First, it evaluates and summarizes the literature that links the use of alcohol and breast cancer. It also verifies the level of risk and the global impact of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol Consumption and Breast Cancer

The first part of the research reviews how alcohol affects the risk of breast cancer in relation to:

  • Hormone levels
  • The body’s response to cancer-causing compounds as it metabolizes alcohol
  • How the body stops an important metabolic pathway called the “one-carbon metabolism pathway”

In the second section, Kevin and team scrutinize published meta-analysis documenting the relation between alcohol intake (including moderate drinking) and the risk of breast cancer. Meta-analysis is a large study that combines and analyzes data from various studies.

Dr. Kevin and team found out that thirteen out of the fifteen meta-analyses that met their criteria indicate that there is a direct relation between alcohol intake and the risk of breast cancer, even when the level of consumption is low. This relation means that even with moderate alcohol intake, you’re still exposed to an increased risk of breast cancer in comparison to non-drinkers.

Finally, the team evaluated the impact of these findings on a global scale regarding cancer. They found that 144,000 cases of breast cancers and 38,000 breast cancer deaths in 2012 were as a result of alcohol consumption. Additionally, up to 18.8% of the cases and 17.5% of the deaths were caused by light drinking.

The data on global alcohol consumption was from the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health while that on breast cancer deaths was derived from the GLOBOCAN (a project of the International Agency for Research on Cancer) records.

The scientists used a method known as Population-Attributable (PAF) methodology to come with estimates from the two sets of data. PAF works by calculating the number of cases and deaths that would occur even when the risk factors are reduced in a different scenario such as when there is no use of alcohol.

Quick Facts about Alcohol Consumption

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) says that alcohol consumption is responsible for more than 3.3 million people across the globe annually.
  • The global intake of alcoholic drinks in 2010 was equivalent to 6.2 liters of pure alcohol per person aged 15 and older
  • In the United States, the recommended alcohol intake is one drink per day for women and up to two drinks daily of men.

So, the next time you engage in the excessive drinking of alcohol, you may want to consider the risk it comes with first.