Just One Drink a Day Raises Breast Cancer Risk

Just One Drink a Day Raises Breast Cancer Risk

Drinking as little as one small glass of wine or beer a day (about 10 g of alcohol) can increase the risk for breast cancer by 5% in premenopausal women and by 9% in postmenopausal women.

A Medscape article this month provides a very well written commentary of a report issued by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) in layman’s terms.  The original study is a meta-analysis (review of 119 previously published studies from around the world). In aggregate, the results are based on findings of around 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer.

Exercise and Breast Cancer

In the study, vigorous exercise (such as running or fast cycling) reduced the risk for breast cancer in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women, while moderate exercise (such as walking and gardening) also decreases the risk in postmenopausal women. In premenopausal women, a statistically significant 17% decreased risk was observed (relative risk [RR], 0.83) when women with the highest levels of activity were compared with those who were least active. Additionally, overall physical activity was also associated with a 13% decreased breast cancer risk (RR, 0.87) in postmenopausal women.

Obesity and Breast Cancer

Being overweight or obese throughout adulthood  was shown to increase the risk for postmenopausal breast cancer, as did a greater weight gain in adulthood. Interestingly, there was strong evidence that being overweight or obese between the ages of about 18 and 30 years decreased the risk for both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer.

Suggestions for Risk Reduction

For cancer prevention, the authors recommended the following:

  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoiding high-calorie foods and sugary drinks
  • Incorporate a wide variety of whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and beans into your diet
  • Limit the amount of red meat you eat
  • Avoid processed meat
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink (or best, avoid it completely)


Source: Just One Drink a Day Raises Breast Cancer Risk – Medscape – May 23, 2017.