It is widely known that drinking too much alcohol is a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease, but did you know it also directly contributes to the development of breast cancer? According to the American Cancer Society, regular alcohol consumption can elevate your risk of getting several different types on cancer,
including that of the breast.
How Does Drinking Alcohol Raise Breast Cancer Risk?
One particularly illuminating study conducted by a team of faculty researchers from the University of Houston further confirms the correlation between regular alcohol consumption and an breast cancer in women. The study illustrates how alcohol consumption may contribute to breast cancer development in the following ways:
- By increasing estrogen levels in the body which can contribute to hormone receptor positive cancer
- By damaging cells - alcohol is known to mutate healthy cells into harmful ones that may make the any part of the body more vulnerable to cancer, including breast tissue
- By activating a latent cancer gene and decreasing the effectiveness of cancer medications: According to University of Houston cancer biologist Chin-Yo Lin, “Our research shows alcohol enhances the actions of estrogen in driving the growth of breast cancer cells and diminishes the effects of the cancer drug Tamoxifen on blocking estrogen by increasing the levels of a cancer-causing gene called BRAF.”
How Many Drinks Raise This Risk?
Even consuming 1 alcoholic beverage daily increases a woman’s breast cancer risk. According to the Breast Cancer Organization
those who consume 3-5 drinks weekly have a 15% higher chance of developing breast cancer than women who don’t drink at all, with the risk rising by 10% with each additional drink consumed on a regular basis.
We aren’t saying women should never
drink – we simply hope to make people aware of this research-established link between breast cancer and regular alcohol consumption. If you are a moderate drinker who is concerned about your breast cancer risk, there are ways you can curb your alcohol intake but still enjoy socializing. You can enjoy your favourite drinks ‘virgin style’ or opt for a couple social drinks a week instead of a daily indulgence.
Other Lifestyle-Related Risk Factors
Aside from watching alcohol intake, there are other lifestyle changes
you can make to help decrease your breast cancer risk. While making these changes doesn’t guarantee you won’t develop cancer, behaviors that may help you beat the odds include:
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy diet
- Keeping your weight in check
- Practicing caution when it comes to birth control or hormone therapy
- Limiting toxin exposure
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