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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Can Drinking Alcohol Increase Chances of Breast Cancer?

The two may seem completely unrelated, but researchers have found that drinking alcohol may increase chances of hormone-sensitive breast cancer in women. What’s more is that they are not just talking about chronic alcohol consumption or even having 2 or 3 glasses of wine with dinner each night. Though the risk does increase with the amount of alcohol one consumes, they are suggesting that even one single alcoholic drink per day, whether a light beer or a martini, is enough to significantly increase the chances.

The study began in 1995 and included statistics from over 184,000 postmenopausal women. By the year 2002, seven years later, over 5,400 new cases of breast cancer were reported in the participants. Their findings were quite dramatic.

They found that those who drank three or more drinks per day had a 51 percent higher chance of developing hormone-positive breast cancer than non-drinkers. That number decreased slightly to 32 percent for those drinking only one to two drinks per day, but was still 7 percent for women who drank less than a single drink per day.

Although the researchers aren’t completely positive as to why this is the case, they are hypothesizing that the alcohol affects estrogen metabolism in such a way that it elevates the risk of breast cancer.

The study was called ‘NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study’ and it was developed by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health, along with the AARP, a non-profit membership organization for people over 50. They presented their findings at the 2008 annual American Association of Cancer Research meeting in April.

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