A new study suggests that even moderate alcohol consumption may boost breast cancer risk by up to 13 percent when there are other risk factors involved.
A group of academics from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston learned that not only heavy drinking may increase cancer risk but even the recommended daily amount can fuel that risk.
Past studies had revealed that risk of developing cancer increased when patients consumed alcohol. Alcohol consumption was mainly linked to colon, esophagus, and liver cancers, but the recent study suggests that we should ad breast cancer to that list, as well.
Nevertheless, past studies had shown that only high doses of alcoholic beverages could trigger cancer in drinkers. The latest study is one of the few which proved that cancer risk can sometimes climb even on a moderate consumption.
Medical professionals recommend women to drink no more than a glass a day, while men should stick to two glasses. A glass means 118 ml of wine, a 335 ml dose of beer, or any other alcoholic beverage that is the equivalent of 15 grams of alcohol.
During their research, study authors assessed the health and alcohol use of more than 130,000 adults. They based their research on data gathered by two professional surveys designed to evaluate the health of nurses, respectively men’s over the course of more than two decades.
Researchers were able to assess the overall risk of developing cancer for any level of alcohol consumption. They learned that men were more likely to develop the disease when drinking moderately if they combined alcohol with smoking. Non-smokers didn’t display such risk.
But in women, regardless of their smoking habits, breast cancer risk was boosted by moderate daily intake of alcohol by up to 13 percent. Other forms of cancer were also likely to develop due to alcohol use.
On the other hand, researchers acknowledged that alcohol use is not directly responsible for developing cancer. Instead, women with a family history of breast cancer were more likely to develop the condition even when drinking alcohol as doctors had recommended.
Dr. Jürgen Rehm, co-author of the study and chief of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada, said that women who know that they had relatives or family members affected by breast cancer should reduce their alcohol use or, even better, abstain from it.
A paper on the recent findings was published this week in the BMJ.
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