Just two drinks a day can increase the risk of developing breast cancer by 18%
A new fact-sheet from Alcohol Concern and funded with a grant from the Pink Ribbon Foundation, looks at how alcohol increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
Breast cancer is by far the most prevalent and one of the most lethal cancers for women in the UK. It affects around 1 in 8 women in the UK during their lifetime.
Surveys show that less than half of the British public know of any link between alcohol and cancer, and less than a third of a link between alcohol and breast cancer. However, lifestyle choices – in particular, alcohol – can have a substantial impact on the risk of developing breast cancer.
The fact-sheet highlights:
- In 2011, 3,000 of the breast cancer cases were directly attributable to alcohol consumption
- Each drink per day increases the risk in women of developing breast cancer by between 7% – 12%
- Alcohol has long been known to have carcinogenic (cancer causing) properties, and more than 50 studies have confirmed alcohol is a particular risk factor in the development of breast cancer
- The exact causal mechanism between alcohol and breast cancer is not fully known – but it is likely due to the way alcohol breaks down into toxic chemicals in our body and increases the production of the female hormone oestrogen.
Jackie Ballard, Chief Executive at Alcohol Concern, said: “Alcohol has cancer causing properties and it’s important that people are aware of the risks associated with its use. Although there is no ‘safe’ level of alcohol consumption, sticking to government guidelines is a reliable way of minimising alcohol-related health risks. The recommended limit for women is 2-3 units a day, and for men 3-4 units and everyone should have 2-3 alcohol free days each week.”