Breast Cancer Risk Increases with Light Alcohol Use

Light drinking, and all alcohol use, are associated with increased risks for breast cancer. Higher consumption levels are linked to higher risk. Women are especially at risk who classify themselves as light drinkers. The link between alcohol consumption and cancer was officially declared in 1987 by a work in group of the World Health Organization (WHO). Find out more about why and how breast cancer risk increases with light alcohol use.

Dose-Response Relationship

There exist three biological components to how alcohol affects breast cancer risk. It changes hormonal levels, produces cancer-causing compounds when it metabolizes alcohol and blocks a key metabolic pathway known as the ‘one-carbon metabolism pathway.’

A larger analyses was conducted on the risk relationship between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk which demonstrated a dose-response relationship, even at low levels of consumption. Even light alcohol drinkers were thus considered at higher risk for breast cancer than non-drinkers, as found in the study. Out of the breast cancer cases analyzed globally, it was estimated 144,000 cases of breast cancer and 38,000 deaths from breast cancer in 2012 were caused by alcohol use. In nearly 17.5 percent of deaths, women were ‘light drinkers.’ Data from the study can be found in the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health and the GLOBOCAN database.

Pulling it Together

According to the WHO, harmful use of alcohol kills 3.3 million people worldwide every year and 60 different diseases where alcohol features as a significant cause were noted. Global consumption of alcoholic beverages in 2010 was equal to 6.2 liters of pure alcohol per person aged 15 and over. Dietary guidelines within the United States suggest if people choose to drink, it be done in moderation. One drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men is the recommended amount. However, it is recommended individuals do not drink alcohol who have not started already and to limit the amount a person drinks anyways because of the links to certain diseases in the body, including cancer.

If you know a loved one struggling with alcoholism, call us to find out how The Villa can help provide you with the right support and resources to get them the help they need to recover and live a full life.