Sour grapes: New study links alcohol consumption to breast cancer

Sour grapes: New study links alcohol consumption to breast cancer

New research finds even one glass of wine a day can raise women's risk factors.

There’s something to whine about. A new study has linked even just 1 drink a day to an increased risk of breast cancer.

The study, performed in the US and published August 18 in the British Medical Journal, looked at over 88,000 women. While heavy drinking has been scientifically connected to a variety of cancers including liver, esophageal, and mouth, the study aimed to examine the effects of light to moderate drinking on cancer, specifically breast cancer.

The study also took into account smoking. Statistically, many heavy drinkers are also heavy smokers, and smoking has been clearly shown to increase certain cancer risks. However, smoking is actually lessening in certain populations while light drinking is increasing, leading the scientists to attempt to isolate the effects of just alcohol consumption.

The results were discouraging. Even light to moderate drinking, defined as approximately 1 drink a day, increased the odds of the female participants for developing breast cancer.   This was true even in women who had never smoked.

Researchers hypothesized that breast tissue, with its naturally higher levels of certain hormones such as estrogen, may be more susceptible to alcohol’s effects. They recommended women with a family history of breast cancer cut down even light drinking.

The one good news was that light drinking was not statistically linked to raising the risk of any other form of cancer.


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