Drinking and the Risk of Breast Cancer

Light drinking may provide certain health benefits for women, but moderate or heavy use of alcohol provides no health benefits whatsoever. In fact, alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer, and the risk increases with the amount consumed.

There’s no doubt that drinking is associated with breast cancer; this inarguable fact has been proven in more than 100 different studies over the last few decades. BreastCancer.org says that women who have three drinks every week have a 15 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer, and the risk goes up an additional 10 percent for each additional drink consumed per day.

Similarly, the Susan G. Komen Foundation says that the risk for women who consume two to three drinks every day is 20 percent higher than for women who don’t drink alcohol.

If that isn’t enough data to convince you, the U.K.’s Million Women Study indicates that for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day, the risk of developing breast cancer increases by 12 percent.

Breast cancer isn’t the only threat to health, as heavy drinking is linked to several other types of cancer, as well as dementia, heart disease, stroke and depression.

If you’re wondering how much alcohol is too much, heavy drinking or excessive use is defined as one drink or more per day for women, consisting of one bottle or can of beer, one shot of liquor or one small glass of wine.

The risk of breast cancer isn’t limited to adult women. Teenage girls who consume three to five drinks per week have a substantially higher chance of developing benign lumps that may become cancerous later.

How Drinking Increases the Risk of Breast Cancer

Alcohol is associated with increased levels of estrogen, known to be a major contributor to breast cancer. Researchers think that drinking changes the way the female body processes that hormone.

There are also indications that alcohol in the tissues may be converted to acetaldehyde, a poisonous byproduct of alcohol metabolism. The increase in the chemical may actually create changes in DNA, thus increasing the potential of developing cancer.

Seeking Help: Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs

Limiting alcohol consumption or stopping entirely is the best way to reduce the risk of breast cancer associated with drinking. Dealing with alcohol abuse isn’t easy, but alcoholism disease is treatable. Alcohol rehab treatment is the best answer.

Vigorous exercise such as running, biking or brisk walking may also reduce the risk, especially after menopause.

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