Even One Drink = Higher Breast Cancer Risk?

You can be forgiven for not being entirely sure what the deal is with moderate alcohol consumption.

Some say a glass a day is good for you, and can even decrease your risk of alzheimer’s, dementia and heart disease.  Wired even tells us that drinking no alcohol increases your risk of dying.

But there are undeniable downsides to alcohol, and the list keeps getting longer: Tuesday researchers announced a small but significant increased risk of breast cancer linked to alcohol consumption.

A study with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston followed over 100,000 women in the US — all nurses — for 30 years, documenting their average alcohol intake and comparing it to their health, specifically the incidence of breast cancer.

The results were clear: The more the women drank, the more their risk of breast cancer went up, albeit slightly. A drink a day, on average, bumped their likelihood of developing cancer up from 2.8% to 3.5% over ten years.  Heavier drinking upped the risk to 4%.

The risk is still overall very small, and a bump of 1.5% is probably not going to cause anyone to swear off alcohol for life – and yet, it’s something to think about, particularly for those with increased cancer risks such as family history or a personal history of cancer.

Will you be giving up your nightly glass of merlot?  Or is the risk slight enough to not worry about it?


Related Stories:

Breast Cancer: Pink Washing Pollutants
WhyMommy Breaks Hearts in Breast Cancer Speech
What Would You Do If You Found a Lump in Your Breast?

Photo Credit: Quinn.anya on flickr.


Anastasia Z.
Anastasia Z6 years ago

thanks for information!

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

NO WAY I'll give up my margs, one or two a week!!!

s. ryan
p. q6 years ago


Lori E.
Lori E6 years ago

You know, everything can give you cancer nowadays. I'm living my life the same and I'm going to happy while doing it. If I get cancer I get cancer. There really doesn't seem to be a 100% way to avoid it so I'll wait for the vaccine to be invented (if I'm still alive for it :)

Anne P.
Anne P6 years ago

Please ... read this article about breast cancer by Dr. Joel Fuhrman: http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/breast-cancer-october-was-breast-cancer-awareness-month-didnt-you-hear.html.

Mrs Shakespeare
Mrs Shakespeare6 years ago

I'm a Muslim so I never drank and never will, and I'm glad I'm so anti-alcohol, because one study after another, it just proves to be lethal. Yes, it may have some benefits, but if you are going to be reasonal and seriously think of the cons as well as the few pros, then Alexandra is right: its poison.

Alexandra Rodda
Alexandra Rodda6 years ago

This is not surprising. Alcohol is a poison. In sufficient quantities it can devastate a body. I have seen young men bleed to death with what was known as "sheerer's disease", which is severe cirrhosis and varicose veins in the gullet due to getting a lot of money after prolonged abstinence and then spending all of that money on drink.
In the case of breast cancer the likely mechanism is liver damage. The liver is the big detoxifying organ of the body. It breaks down estrogen and a greater amount of that in women whose liver is not up to the task may help to encourage the formation of breast cancer. It would be interesting to see whether that is so.
I doubt that a glass a day would matter all that much, but this survey may include women who drink heavily.
This is an interesting peace of research.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W6 years ago


Holy Lawrence
Holly Lawrence6 years ago

Is a curoius fact to me! And definitely something that I will read more about ..

Thank YOU,,

Sharon S.
Sharon S6 years ago

Everything we consume has poisons in it and findings would show that anything you consume will increase your risk of some kind of cancer or other illness.