Women who drink even moderate amounts of alcohol may be boosting their risk of breast cancer risk, researchers have found.
Previous studies have already linked heavy drinking with a higher breast cancer risk, but a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association found consumption of three-to-six alcoholic drinks a week is associated with a small increased risk of breast cancer.
Binge drinking, along with drinking both between ages 18-40 and after age 40, are associated with a higher breast cancer risk, the study found.
Researchers found in a study of nearly 106,000 women enrolled in Nurses’ Health Study that a low level of alcohol consumption (5 to 9.9 grams a day) equivalent to three to six glasses of wine a week was linked to a 15 percent higher risk of breast cancer.
Women who consumed at least two drinks (at least 30 grams of alcohol) a day faced a 51 percent higher risk of breast cancer compared with women who never consumed alcohol, according to the research.
One possible explanation for the link between alcohol and breast cancer may be alcohol’s effects on circulating estrogen levels, according to the authors, which include Dr. Wendy Chen of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues.
In their summary, the authors write their results highlight the importance for women to consider their lifetime exposure when they evaluate the effect of alcohol and probably other dietary factors have on the development of cancer.
“However, an individual will need to weigh the modest risks of light-to-moderate alcohol use on breast cancer development against the beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease to make the best personal choice regarding alcohol consumption,” they write.
Source: JAMA news release.