The new information comes after a review of the carcinogenic effects on breast tissue conducted by researchers at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. In this particular case the focus was on women who consumed three or more glasses of wine, or equivalent, a day. They found that in doing so the risk of breast cancer was increased by nearly 50%.
The research included analysing a total of 113 previous studies which included nearly 77,000 light drinkers. While the health benefit in terms of women who drank 1 glass of wine extended to reduction in heart disease and stroke risk, they found that even a single unit of alcohol increased the risk of breast cancer by 4 percent. With heavier drinking, ranging from 3 or more per day, the risk jumped up considerably to the fifty percent mark.
Alcohol is already considered as a risk factor for causing cancer, especially bowel cancer, in both men and women. And while benefits have also become more documented, this new finding suggests that there is a fine line in terms of when drinking alcohol is detrimental rather than beneficial. The findings also coincide with a rapid increase in breast cancer cases since the 1970’s and it’s believed to be linked to overall increases in alcohol consumption. Nearly 49,000 cases and 12,000 deaths a year confirms as much.
However, in comparison, it’s still less common than mortality found in heart disease and strokes, which combined account for 200,000 deaths a year.
The numbers aside, the most important factor here is moderation. While the research has confirmed that excessive consumption of alcohol increases the breast cancer risk in women significantly, it also acknowledges the fact that modest intake is very beneficial. Light drinking can be protective, but heavier drinking rapidly spikes health risks. In the case of breast cancer, it’s believed this is because alcohol increases the levels of oestrogen thereby disrupting the body’s natural balance.
Full information regarding the research and the effects of alcohol in causing breast cancer in women can be found in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, where the study was published.