Alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer

Alcohol could increase the risk of young women developing breast cancer if there is a family history of the disease

New research indicates that women from families with a history of breast cancer should cut down on their alcohol consumption in order to decrease their risk of contracting the disease.

An 11-year study conducted by Harvard Medical School examined 7,000 women aged nine to fifteen where 17 per cent had a family history of the condition.

Results reveal that women from families who were vulnerable to the disease and drank heavily were more than twice as likely to develop benign tumours as the non-drinkers.  

A 22-year-old ‘heavy drinker’ was defined as someone who had approximately one drink a day.

Catherine Berkey, a leading author, comments that these young women should be aware that their risk of developing benign tumours and potentially breast cancer later on will be increased by drinking alcohol.

However, although all breast lumps are viewed as increasing cancer-risk, around 90 per cent are non cancerous.

‘I would be very, very reluctant to say that a 24-year-old woman with benign breast disease is at increased risk of breast cancer,’ says Dr. Steven Narod, from the Women’s College Hospital Research Institute in Toronto.

As there was no direct evidence to suggest that alcohol was the cause of the breast lumps Dr Narod believes it’s not clear that stopping drinking would prevent breast cancer.

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