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3 Drinks a Day Raises Breast Cancer Risk by 51%

posted 08:21 AM EST, Wed April 16, 2008
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3 Drinks a Day Raises Breast Cancer Risk by 51% © Photo: Merfam

A massive study from the National Cancer Institute has linked post menopausal alcohol consumption to greatly increased rates of breast cancer.

The most common types of breast cancer are those influenced by the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and recent research reveals that alcohol consumption raises the risks of experiencing these hormonally mediated cancers significantly.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute followed a sample pool of 184 418 post menopausal women for 7 years, and tracked how much alcohol they drank, and recorded how many of these women developed estrogen and progesterone linked breast cancer. They found that when compared to completely abstinent women, having less than 1 drink a day raised the risk of breast cancer by 7%, having 1-2 drinks a day raised the risks by 32% and having 3 or more drinks per day raised the risks by 51%.

The type of alcohol consumed made no difference, and wine was just as damaging as beer or liquor.

The researchers speculate that alcohol interferes with estrogen metabolism, which causes an increase in estrogen fueled cancers.

Experts caution that although the results of the study are dramatic, there is no causal link – merely a correlation relationship. They cannot say whether or not alcohol causes the increases in cancer rates, only that women observed drinking at certain levels experienced greater rates of breast cancer.

Because of the heart protective effects of moderate alcohol consumption, experts recommend weighing genetic risk factors prior to making a decision on alcohol consumption. If there is a greater familial history of heart disease, moderate drinking may be advised, if breast cancer runs in the family, it's probably not.

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