Recently a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. She caught it very early, thanks to her proactive breast screening!
After completing her radiation, her Oncologist recommended that she not drink alcohol at all. She isn’t a big drinker but does enjoy two maybe three glasses of wine a week. This conversation prompted me to begin to research what we know about alcohol and breast cancer. You may not be thrilled with this research. Please do not shoot the messenger!!! However, information is power! It is always best to gather all the info and make an educated decision about your personal health needs and protocols.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, research (published June 2020) consistently shows that drinking alcoholic beverages — beer, wine, and liquor — increases a woman’s risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol can impact your levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol may be damaging to DNA in cells which may increase breast cancer risk.
When they compare women, who don’t drink at all to those drinking three alcoholic drinks per week, they found that you may have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer. It is estimated that your breast cancer risk may increase by 10% for each additional drink you have per week.
Are your breasts dense??? Please don’t take offense, I have dense breasts, and my breasts are brilliant! Over half of the female population over 40 who get mammograms are in the “dense breasts” club. According to the NIH National Cancer Institute, our breasts contain glandular, connective, and fat tissue. If you have dense breasts, you have higher amounts of glandular tissue and fibrous connective tissue and relatively low amounts of fatty or fatty breast tissue. So, if you have been told by the tech doing your mammogram or perhaps your mamo report says that you have dense breasts, it is essential to know that studies show drinking alcohol may affect the density of your breasts.
“In a study in Germany, consumption of more than 10 grams (10 grams is equivalent to 1/3 of an ounce) of alcohol per day was associated with increased risk of high mammographic density. Similarly, increases in the risk of increased breast density were associated with alcohol drinking in Japan, Sweden, and the United States in Hawaii and New York City. There was a nonsignificant association in a study in China.”
According to BreastCancer.org, there are only a few studies on drinking alcohol and the risk of recurrence. However, a 2009 study found that drinking even a few alcoholic beverages per week (three to four drinks) increased breast cancer risk coming back in women who had been diagnosed with early-stage disease. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
They further explain, “Teen and tween girls aged 9 to 15 who drink three to five drinks a week have three times the risk of developing benign breast lumps. (Certain categories of non-cancerous breast lumps are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer later in life.)”
Ladies, it is important to understand and evaluate the risks vs benefits of those alcoholic beverages.
If you find that you wish to cut back, it is very easy to do. Cocktails without alcohol are available everywhere. We can all get creative with marinated sparkling water with fruit and even cucumber and mint. Last night I tried putting a couple of organic raspberries in the bottom of a champagne flute, filled to the brim with sparkling water – it was yummy.
Cheers, L’chaim – A toast to life!
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4 thoughts on “Does Alcohol Increase Your Risk of Breast Cancer?”
Eight years ago I was diagnosed with DCIS and had a lumpectomy. My surgeon requested that I don’t drink any more alcohol except on my birthday or special occasions. My oncologist always asks how many drinks a week am I having as well. Never a “big drinker, and although I always try for four alcohol free days per week, I still enjoy a few glasses (and a guilty conscience). Time to cut way back.
Thanks for sharing this with us, Robin. It is so helpful to hear that you received the same recommendation from your surgeon. Time for some new habits!
Well after reading Ellen’s findings it is worth notating. I do have sometimes up to 2 glasses of wine a week. I find sometimes if I put 2-3 oz. in a nice glass and sip it I can get the same pleasure from it than drinking a whole glass.
Try It !
That’s a great way to cut back on your wine intake, Wendy. This way a couple of times a week you have a few sips of wine.