Health Blogs

Can drinking alcohol increase the risk of Breast Cancer?

The answer to the question that if alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer can be stated as a definite yes.

Globally Breast cancer is the most common cancer in female especially in developed world and rising trends in developing countries. The incidence rate of breast cancer has increased steadily over the past 40 years. The incidence of breast cancer varies substantially according to the presence or absence of certain well-established risk factors Till date almost lifetime risk factor for breast cancer is one out of eight women(1:8) at some point in their lives. Although multiple factors are responsible for increased incidence of breast cancer one of them is drastically changing lifestyle. Smoking, Obesity, sedentary life and drinking alcohol   are few important risk factors. Alcohol can cause at least seven types of cancer including Breast cancer.

There were no significant differences in this association depending on the type of alcoholic beverage. Epidemiologic studies have consistently found that women who drink alcoholic beverages like beer, wine and liquor are at increased risk of developing breast cancer. Although most women don’t regularly drink very large amounts of alcohol, thousands of cases of cancer-including breast – are linked to alcohol each year. According to research by Cancer Research UK, the lifetime risk of having breast cancer increases as increases in a number of frequency of drink.

What does the research state?

In multivariate analyses controlled for age, race, body mass and smoking, the risk rate ranged from 1.5 times, for one to two drinks per day, to 3.3 times, for six or more drinks per day. Early exposure to alcohol may be a key risk factor. Alcohol consumption in pre-menopausal women has been associated with increased total estrogen levels and bio-available estrogens while in postmenopausal women it causes obesity with subsequent risk of having breast cancer through alteration of plasma estrogen levels

How alcohol causes breast cancer is still not known but most probable theories behind it?

  • Alcohol also may increase breast cancer risk by directly damaging DNA in cells.
  • During the metabolism of Alcohol, a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde is formed which not only damage the DNA but also prevent repairing process.
  • As we know that breast is hormone sensitive organ and Alcohol can increase the levels of certain hormones in the body, including oestrogen which is the basic fuel for the genesis of breast cancer.
  • Recent epidemiologic data suggested that the excess risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol consumption may be reduced by adequate folate intake.