A new study out of Europe supports the notion that drinking raises women’s risk of breast cancer.
Researchers from five Spanish universities looked at data on more than 334,000 women aged 35 to 70, across 10 European countries. Nearly 12,000 of the women developed breast cancer over the study period.
Reporting recently in the International Journal of Cancer, the investigators found that the risk of breast cancer quadrupled with each daily glass of wine or beer. The study wasn’t designed to prove cause-and-effect, however, only to show an association.
In a new release from the journal, study co-author Maria Dolores Chirlaque said that “a daily intake of one glass of wine or beer — or less — would correspond to a risk value of 1. However, if we increase our intake to two daily glasses of wine or beer, our risk would rise by 4 percent.”
The risk continues to rise along with higher alcohol consumption, she added.
The time in life and the number of years a woman drinks also seemed to affect her breast cancer risk, the study found. The longer a women drank, the greater her risk, especially if she started drinking before her first pregnancy.
The good news? This is a modifiable risk factor.
“Alcohol intake is a breast cancer risk factor that can be changed by a personal decision to form healthy habits,” Chirlaque said. So, “women must be advised and forewarned of the possibility they have to control this factor.”
As to why drinking might boost breast cancer risk, she pointed out that, in the study, drinking increased the chances of both hormone-receptor-negative as well as hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers. “So, everything points to non-hormonal causes that need to be further investigated,” Chirlaque said.
Breastcancer.org has more about alcohol and breast cancer.