Even ‘light drinking’ is directly linked to breast cancer occurrence

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“Society needs to stop marketing the myth of alcohol and start telling the truth: too much alcohol kills. As a GP for 30 years, I have witnessed first-hand how alcohol destroys lives. I have seen people who had cirrhosis of the liver or another alcohol-related illness…”

Dr Kailash Chand, the deputy chair of the British Medical Association (BMA), ex-chair of Tameside and Glossop NHS, and a GP since 1983.

Most breast cancer is not genetic

The Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee released a report on Tuesday February 12, 2013, saying “…most breast cancers occur in people with no family history, so environmental factors such as alcohol and exercise – must play a major role in the etiology of the disease…” 

How about light drinking and breast cancer?

A massive epidemiological review of 133 studies on alcohol intake and breast cancer was done by Helmut K. Seitz, PhD, from the Centre of Alcohol Research at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. The researchers looked at decades-long data covering 44,552 breast cancer cases in non-drinkers and 77,539 breast cancer cases in light drinkers. The authors said “A significant increase in the risk of breast cancer is already present at intakes of up to one alcoholic drink/day…”

Heavy or light drinking raises breast cancer

The study confirmed that heavy alcohol consumption – defined as 3 or more drinks per day – is associated with a 40% to 50% increased relative risk compared with not drinking at all. “This translates into up to 5% of breast cancers attributable to alcohol in northern Europe and North America for a total of approximately 50,000 alcohol-attributable cases of breast cancer worldwide”. That percentage is doubled in Italy, France, the UK, Australia and New Zealand where drinking rates are higher. Overall, up to 1% to 2% of breast cancers in Europe and North America are “attributable to light drinking alone” the authors estimate. The relative risk for breast cancer increases by 7.1% for each additional daily drink.

“The regular consumption of a light amount of alcohol — 3 to 6 glasses of wine per week — over a long period of time increased a woman’s risk for invasive breast cancer…” 

Dr Wendy Y. Chen, MD, MPH, on her 28-year study from the large ‘Nurses’ Health Study’¹.

How the damage is done

The researchers suggest that the effects of acetaldehyde (made by your liver every time you drink), oxidative stress (one of the initiation starting points for cancer) and epigenetic changes (your genetic expression), are to blame for the devastating breast carcinogenesis damage in the human body.

“Thus, for women there is no safe threshold for alcohol and breast cancer; drink alcohol at your own risk”² 


Written by Jason Shon Bennett from ExceptionalHealth.com ® & ©. 


  1. As published by the Journal of the American Medical Association 2011;306:1884-1890
  2. Study published online March 28, 2012 in Alcohol and Alcoholism. It was funded by the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC), the Dietmar Hopp Foundation, and the Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation, Heidelberg, Germany. As reported by Medscape.org on 23 April 2012.

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