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Alcohol and Breast Cancer

The Unknown Truth Between Alcohol and Breast Cancer

Alcohol, no matter how it fuels fun nights out with friends, has plenty of risks. Getting intoxicated can lead not just to sticky situations, but regular intake of alcohol can also increase your risk of cancer.

It’s not just excessive drinking that you have to be careful of, though. Even light to moderate drinking (around one drink a day for women) can increase your risk for cancer.

What studies are saying on alcohol and breast cancer

This finding stems from two studies done in the United States on over 100,000 participants. While alcohol intake has been found to be associated with a number of cancers, the link is clearest with breast cancer.

The message is very simple: alcohol and breast cancer have a connection. That said, if you regularly drink, you’re upping your chances of developing the condition in the future. This claim can be misleading though, so to sort things out, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind:

-There is plenty of evidence suggesting that alcohol increases the chances of breast cancer.
-Drinking alcohol does not mean you will develop breast cancer right away.  It only means that your chances of developing it are higher.
-How much you drink over time is what increases this said risk.

How does alcohol cause breast cancer anyway?

Like many other breast cancer risk factors, researchers have yet to pinpoint the exact connection and role that alcohol plays in the development of the disease. However, there are many plausible reasons as to how it can contribute to the disease:

Alcohol and estrogen

One of this is that alcohol consumption can increase the amount of estrogen in the bloodstream. Estrogen is the female hormone which is known to stimulate the growth of estrogen responsive tumors and breast cancer cells. One research done on the link between alcohol and estrogen showed that women who drank two alcoholic beverages on a daily basis had higher levels of estrogen in their bodies than those who did not drink at all.

Alcohol and DNA damage

Aside from encouraging more estrogen in the body, another link between alcohol and breast cancer is that the substance has a naturally harmful effect on our DNA. Apparently, the substance produces a byproduct called acetaldehyde, which has been seen to damage DNA. This then triggers a response associated with the growth of breast cancer. To add to that, alcohol intake also depletes levels of folate, which is a vitamin that enhances the body’s ability to repair DNA.

What if I drink from time to time?

Given these findings, it makes sense to entirely cut down on alcohol. But what if you like to drink from time to time? Or what about these other studies saying that drinking wine on a regular basis can lower the risk of heart disease?

If you drink from time to time, the advice is – don’t panic. In the overall scheme of things, alcohol contributes to about 4% overall risk for breast cancer, so the risk – while still there – is very minimal. It’s fine to drink but within limits. By keeping your drinking to a sensible limit, you limit your chances of harming yourself. However, if you find yourself consuming a lot on a regular basis, then that’s the time you have to rethink the way you drink.

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