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Alcohol & Breast Cancer

October 16, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC

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When it comes to breast cancer, evidence shows that just one standard sized drink a day can increase a woman's risk for breast cancer by 10%. Many Canadians don't know the link between alcohol use and cancer; yet, alcohol is among the top three leading risk factors for death from cancer worldwide. As alcohol intake increases, so does the risk for cancer.

Since about a quarter of British Columbians drink above the low risk drinking guidelines at least once a month, delivering the message that alcohol can increase cancer risk is becoming more and more important. Here's what you need to know about alcohol and breast cancer:

  • Women have a baseline risk of breast cancer of one in eight over their lifetime.
  • Drinking alcohol doesn't mean you will get breast cancer; it means your risk of developing it will be increased.
  • 4% of new breast cancer cases in Canada each year are linked to alcohol consumption. 700 new cases in Canada occur each year (Source: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health).

While moderate alcohol intake can be beneficial for the heart for those 45 and older, you need to weigh the risks of the same amount of alcohol increasing your risk for breast cancer. In this sense, alcohol is like a double-edged sword - speak to your health care professional to figure out what's best for you. Women who have a higher risk for heart disease or cancer due to genetics or other risk factors should consider reducing their alcohol intake.

Today's guest blogger is Haley Miller, a policy analyst at the BC Ministry of Health. Part of her work portfolio is reducing the harms related to alcohol, and part of her downtime is researching for her work. Thanks for contributing Haley!


Resources & Blogs:
Risks and Health Effects of Drinking Alcohol
Social Drinking, The Hidden Risks
Red, Red Wine is it Good for Us or What

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