It is an older observation that there is an increased breast cancer risk from alcohol consumption for women.
But in the meantime a new study has concentrated on the effects of having just one drink per day. This is the recommended dose to prevent cardiovascular disease.
When a premenopausal woman has one drink per day, this will cause a 5% increase of breast cancer. The same one drink per day after menopause can increase breast cancer by 9%.
Alcohol is metabolized into acetaldehyde, which is a carcinogenic substance. But alcohol also slows down the elimination of estradiol. This is a known breast cancer-producing hormone, when progesterone is not available to balance it. When a woman consumes increasing amounts of alcohol she is at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Factors reducing increased breast cancer risk from alcohol consumption
There are other factors that counter this: regular exercise will diminish the risk for breast cancer and other cancers as well. Watching your body weight is another useful tool to decrease any cancer risk. Women in menopause who are overweight or obese have a much higher risk of developing breast cancer when compared to women with a normal weight.
Eating a plant-based diet with green leafy vegetables will reduce the risk of pre-menopausal or postmenopausal breast cancer. These are the recommendations y the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Health Organization to reduce the risk for breast cancer.
- Maintain your weight at normal levels.
- Exercise at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) per week, but daily exercise may be better. Keep it at moderate intensity, like a brisk walk, or more.
- Limit your alcoholic drink intake to one per day or less.
- Eat a plant-based diet, which is high in vegetables and fruits. Avoid added sugars and refined carbs.
The discussion regarding low dose alcohol intake for prevention of heart attacks and strokes has been an ongoing topic. Alcohol in moderation has received praises to be protective for the heart. But this now comes with a cautionary note, as even the much praised glass of wine is not necessarily good for cancer prevention. Increased breast cancer risk from alcohol consumption is a real risk for women. One drink per day before menopause will cause a 5% increase of breast cancer and after menopause the risk can increase to 9%. The more important factor for heart health and a means to lower any cancer risk significantly remains exercise and the consumption of a plant based diet.
It may not be an easy easy choice for some women to forgo that glass of wine per day with dinner, but measured on the health risk it would very likely be a prudent choice.