The American Institute for Cancer Research released a study in 2017 that has found a strong link between daily alcohol consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer found in adult women, and is the fifth leading cause of death among women with cancer.
Given the seriousness of the issue, new studies are being undertaken all the time. As part of their Continuous Update Project (CUP), the AICR is constantly gathering and evaluating new data. It aims to provide women with the most up-to-date information gained from breast cancer studies, including its possible causes, and measures that can be taken to prevent it.
What Did the Study Find?
Women who consume alcohol every day have an increased risk of breast cancer. In premenopausal women, the link between alcohol and breast cancer was labeled as “probable,” and in postmenopausal women the link was listed as “convincing.”
There also seems to be evidence to suggest that the more alcohol women drink, the more elevated their risk of breast cancer becomes. Therefore, a woman who has 10 alcoholic drinks per week will be at greater risk than a woman who has two drinks per week.
What Constitutes a “Serving” of Alcohol?
While the study did not specify a minimum threshold, women looking to cut back or to monitor their alcohol intake more closely should be aware of what constitutes a serving of alcohol.
- Beer – 12 ounces
- Wine – 5 ounces
- Liquor – 1.5 ounces
In other words, a pint of beer which is 16 ounces is the equivalent of 1 1/3 servings. If you are filling up a wine goblet with your favorite Merlot, you can easily be adding 8 to 10 ounces per glass – effectively doubling your serving size. And that’s to say nothing of margaritas which advertise three shots of tequila!
Consequently, it’s a lot easier to go “over budget” on alcohol when you’re not aware of the proper serving sizes. Keeping a close eye on your alcohol intake can help prevent accidentally overindulging.
Here Are Some Changes You Can Make
There are a variety of factors which determine whether or not a woman will develop breast cancer during her life. Genetics, family history, hormone levels and body weight are all considerations. Not all of these things can be controlled, but it is important to take action where you can.
If you’re looking to lower your risk of developing breast cancer, you may want to consider reducing your overall alcohol intake. You can do this by substituting other “special treat” drinks for alcoholic ones. For instance, water infused with fresh fruit, non-alcoholic cocktails, tea, or freshly squeezed fruit juice. In all of these cases, you still get to engage in the ritual of preparing a special drink just for yourself, but you are minimizing your exposure to alcohol.
If you’re looking to seriously cut down on alcohol, most research shows that two drinks per week is probably the maximum you should consume.
If you’re having trouble cutting back, begin a conversation with your doctor. They can help you get further information about both breast cancer prevention, and alcohol dependence.