advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Does Drinking Cause Breast Cancer?

I recently heard reports of a study linking alcohol to breast cancer. I was surprised because I thought this was old news. Can you update me on this issue?

A
Answer (Published 6/2/2008)

You're right: this is a pretty old story. Over the years a number of studies have found an increased risk of breast cancer among women who drink alcohol. Some of the most compelling data come from the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study, published in 2002. They show that as little as one drink a day, and perhaps even less, increases the risk of dying from breast cancer in postmenopausal women by 30 percent compared to women who drink no alcohol. The study included more than 242,000 women and followed them for more than 14 years. No such risk was seen in the premenopausal and perimenopausal women participating in this particular study, but other investigations have found increased risk from alcohol in those populations also.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Cancer Support - Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging - Do you or a loved one have cancer? The Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide has simple, effective preventive health information and tools including an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid. Join today and get 14 days free!

The most recent findings come from analysis of data from a study that began in 1995 and included more than 184,000 women. Here, researchers found that, compared to women who didn't drink at all, those who had a single daily drink had a seven percent increased risk of estrogen-receptor- and progesterone-receptor-positive breast cancer, the most common form of the disease. In this study, women who had one to two drinks a day had a 32 percent increased risk; those who had three or more drinks had up to a 51 percent increased risk. All types of alcohol - wine, beer or hard liquor - had the same effect.

The results of this study were presented at the American Association of Cancer Research conference on April 13, 2008 and in a published abstract. Until the full report is published in a peer-reviewed journal, they should be viewed as preliminary.

Still, accumulating evidence suggests that alcohol consumption does influence breast cancer risk, perhaps by interfering with the way the body metabolizes estrogen. If you have an occasional drink, alcohol is unlikely to pose much of a threat. But if you customarily have one or more drinks a day, your breast cancer risk may be higher than necessary. Women can't avoid the two biggest risks of breast cancer – being female and getting older. But the additional risk posed by drinking alcohol is one that you can, and should, reduce, especially if family or personal history puts you at above-average risk for this serious disease.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here