Drinking alcohol can increase breast-cancer risk

Blushing for a cause: We’re pink this October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Many people unwind with a glass of wine or a cocktail after a stressful day, and some research suggests that mild to moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages can have various health advantages.

According to the Mayo Clinic, moderate consumption of alcohol has been linked to a lower risk of developing and dying from heart disease, possibly reducing the risk of ischemic stroke and potentially reducing the risk of diabetes. However, for some people, the risks of consuming alcohol may outweigh the benefits. Many studies show that drinking alcohol may increase the risk of breast cancer, advises the research and information organization Susan J. Komen.

The group says pooled analysis of data from 53 studies found that, for each alcoholic drink consumed per day, the relative risk for breast cancer increases by about seven percent. Researchers aren’t quite sure why there is an increased risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol intake, but experts at MD Anderson Cancer Center have some theories.

Some theorize that alcohol can increase levels of estrogen and other hormones that affect breast cancer formation and growth. Excess fat can lead to an increased cancer risk, and the consumption of empty calories through drinking alcohol can lead to unwanted weight gain.

Furthermore, those who consume alcohol have increased amounts of folic acid in their systems, which can increase cancer risk.

The non-profit breast-cancer organization Breastcancer.org states that, compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15 percent higher risk of breast cancer. Experts also estimate that the risk of breast cancer goes up another 10 percent for each additional drink women regularly consume each day. Keep in mind that a drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Women who want to do all they can to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer may want to avoid alcohol.

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