Researchers and doctors have long known that consuming alcohol increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer. A new study, due to be released in the April, 2013 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, shows a strong link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer death. Do you really need to give up that nightly glass of wine – or not?
If you’re a breast cancer survivor, you’ve probably read everything you can about the risk of recurrence.
After all, you don’t want to repeat that first “exciting” experience, do you? The surgery, radiation, chemo, all bringing their brutal side effects. To say nothing of the emotional and mental stress of thinking you’re going to die.
Been there, done that, not going back – God willing.
So you’re probably aware that there’s a direct relationship between the number of alcoholic beverages you consume, and your risk of recurrence. The more you drink, the more likely your cancer is to come back. Period.
Back in 1994, a compilation of 38 different studies showed that 1 drink per day – 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ½ ounces of liquor – increased breast cancer risk across the board (all types of cancer, all ages of women) by 10%. (Hamel, 2010)
A more recent study showed that for every 10g of alcohol consumed daily, breast cancer risk increases 9%. To avoid doing the math, this translates as follows: women who have 1 drink or less per day increase their risk of breast cancer slightly. Women who down 2 to 5 drinks per day increase their risk of breast cancer by a whopping 41%. (Hamel, 2010)
Now, we learn that not only does alcohol increase your risk of breast cancer; it significantly increases your risk of dying of the disease, as well.
A group of researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine, the National Cancer Institute, Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have released information, culled from years of research, stating that alcohol is responsible for 20,000 US cancer deaths annually (about 3.5% of all cancer deaths). (2013, DiGravio)
A significant number (30%) of those alcohol-related cancer deaths (6,000 deaths) are from breast cancer. With about 40,000 American women dying of breast cancer each year, that translates to alcohol being the root cause of approximately 15% of all breast cancer deaths.
Wow... That really gives you pause, doesn’t it? What about that glass of Chardonnay with dinner, or the cold beer at the cookout – are they really that dangerous?
Well, it depends on your emotional capacity for risk. Delving further into the data in this new study, we find that about 30% of alcohol-related breast cancer deaths are in women who down fewer than 1 ½ drinks per day.
That’s 18 ounces of beer: about 1 ½ bottles. Or 7 ½ ounces of wine: less than a cup. Or 2 ¼ ounces of hard liquor: two standard mixed drinks.