Researchers from Germany, France, and Italy also discovered having three or more drinks a day could increase the risk of breast cancer by 50%.
“Alcohol consumption is causally related with breast cancer,” the study authors concluded after reviewing 113 prior studies. They attributed 2% of breast cancer cases in Europe and North America to light drinking alone, and about 50,000 cases worldwide to heavy drinking.
Experts have been suggesting women to minimize their drinking in order to decrease their risk of breast cancer. The researchers say this new information confirms their suspicions.
These experts are advising women with an average risk of breast cancer not to consume more than one alcoholic beverage a day. Dr. Helmut Seitz, professor of medicine, gastroenterology and alcohol research at the University of Heidelberg in Germany led the new research.
“Women at an elevated risk for breast cancer should avoid alcohol or consume alcohol only occasionally,” said researchers speaking with HealthDay. Those at increased risk include those with a family history of breast cancer.
According to the authors, the link between breast cancer and alcohol was first discovered in the 1980s. As they updated their research, they looked for studies published before November 2011. Out of 3,400 studies performed between the 1980s and November 2011, they focused on 113 to examine the effects of drinking on breast cancer risks.
An estimated one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Experts are now adding the increased risk of drinking alcohol to the statistic.
Estrogen levels are thought to increase in the presence of alcohol. As these estrogen levels increase, the risk of breast cancer also increases. In fact, several studies have shown alcohol more strongly increases the risk of cancers with estrogen positive receptors. If a cancer needs estrogen in order to grow, like breast cancer, than an increased amount of estrogen increases this risk.
Some American experts want to make sure this new revisions of an existing study is put into perspective.
“This is an update of the evidence linking alcohol to breast cancer,” said Susan Gapstur, vice president of the epidemiology research program at the American Cancer Society. By including both newer studies and older ones, Gapstur said, “We are basically getting to the point where we can more precisely estimate the risk of light alcohol consumption.”
This new research could complicate matters for women who have decided to enjoy a drink a day for heart health. Gapstur recommends sticking to the American Cancer Society Guidelines.
“Our guidelines say, for overall health, if you don’t drink, don’t start,” she said. “If you do, it’s best to limit your consumption to one drink a day if you are a woman.”
According to Gapstur, genetics will increase the risk of breast cancer more than alcohol will.
From the April 2, 2012, Prepared Foods’ Daily Update