Can Drinking Affect Your Breast Cancer Risk?

Written by on October 2, 2013

drinking alcohol and breast cancer

‘To Your Health’ or Not?

You probably know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a fact that’s hard to avoid when everything online and in real life is drowning in pink. But beneath the pink ribbons and admonitions to get mammograms, take a longer look at one of the lesser known breast cancer risk factors: Alcohol. Can your drinking cause breast cancer?

The link between drinking alcohol and breast cancer is long-established: Women who drink have a greater risk of breast cancer—if they drink even 2 drinks a day their risk is 1.5 times greater than women who don’t drink. Now a new study pinpoints a time frame for drinking risk: Young adulthood, at the time when breast tissue is growing the most.

Alcohol & Cancer Risk

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis studied results of large-scale studies of women. They found that drinking just one drink a day between the time of a first period and a woman’s first pregnancy increased risk of breast cancer 13 percent. It also increased the risk for proliferative benign breast conditions, some of which are themselves risk factors for breast cancer.

The researchers said that breast tissue proliferates the most from the onset of puberty until a first pregnancy. The more that this rapidly growing tissue is exposed to carcinogens during this time, the more vulnerable it is to developing cancer. The fact that women are delaying their first pregnancies only lengthens that period of time when tissue is most vulnerable. The statistics for college-age women who binge drink (4 drinks within 2 hours) make it even more alarming.

Reducing Your Risk with Rehab

Think about that when you take your next drink or wonder if you need alcohol rehab. It’s hard to pinpoint cause and effect with diseases, but look at all your risk factors: Drink every day or a lot every week, maybe some family history of breast cancer, maybe some obesity. You can’t change risk factors like family history. But you can change whether or not you drink.

If you think alcohol is a problem for you, call Recovery Connection at 800-993-3869. Our admission counselors can find the right alcohol rehab for you.

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