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Does Alcohol Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer? What to Know During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Last Updated on February 5, 2021 by Inspire Malibu

From the beginning of October to the end, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a way to raise public awareness around the facts, prevention and treatment of this potentially deadly form of cancer.

Alcohol and Breast Cancer Risk

Experts predict more than 250,000 women in the United States can expect to be diagnosed with a case of invasive breast cancer in 2017.

According to, about 1 in every 8 women – 12 percent – will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. While there are many contributing factors, research suggests alcohol consumption can play a role in the development of this disease.

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation cites analysis from 53 studies that found “for each alcoholic drink consumed per day, the relative risk of breast cancer increased by about 7 percent.”

Though the risk of developing breast cancer by simply drinking is relatively low, how much a person drinks is relevant. “You need to be more concerned if it becomes a routine in which you drink more than one drink each day,” the medical director of MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center, Therese Bevers, said in an interview.

Why Does Alcohol Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer?

Researchers aren’t entirely sure why alcohol consumption plays a role in breast cancer, but there’s enough evidence to show it does. They do believe, however, that the following might be the answer as to alcohol increases the risk:

  • Regular alcohol consumption leads to increased levels of some hormones, such as estrogen, that are associated with breast cancer
  • The empty calories in alcohol can lead to unwanted weight gain and excess fat is a factor in breast cancer
  • Increased levels of folic acid is a side effect of excessive alcohol consumption, another element in developing cancers

Breast Cancer Prevention Tips

An important reason for raising breast cancer awareness in October is so more and more women – men, as well – understand the risks, and what steps they can take to lower their chances of developing the disease. Here are some important measures to take in preventative care:

  • Know your family history as best as is possible. Genetics play a key role in the development of breast cancer
  • Women, aged 40 and over, should get yearly mammograms
  • Younger women with a family history of breast cancer or who are at higher risk due to other factors should consider mammograms every three years
  • Regular self-examination of the body is incredibly easy and useful in early detection. Anything that feels or looks out of the ordinary should be examined by a physician
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle by limiting alcohol intake, eating healthy and exercising on a consistent basis

During October, take the time to consider your risk of developing breast cancer and recognize how alcohol consumption might or might not be factor. Understand as well, that there is no shame in acknowledging that you or a loved one might have a problem with alcohol dependency or alcoholism.

Addiction is a treatable disease that countless people have recovered from, and gone on to live happier, healthier lives.


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