NEWS: Drinking alcohol increases risk of breast cancer.
Published 7 Jan 2016
Breast Cancer UK supports new guidance on alcohol consumption published today by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers (CMOs).
It advises that drinking any level of alcohol increases the risk of developing cancer. For women, the figures clearly show that drinking alcohol regularly increases their risk of developing breast cancer.
The new guidance follows a detailed review of the scientific evidence since the previous guidelines were published in 1995. In addition, the Committee on Carcinogenicity (CoC), today published its report into the links between alcohol and cancer, which backs up the review by the UK COMs
Alcohol consumption has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer for some time. Figures released in 2010 suggest that around 6% of breast cancer cases are attributable to the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol metabolism produces acetaldehyde which can induce DNA damage associated with cancers. Alcohol intake is also associated with increased concentrations of circulating oestrogens in the body which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer UK agrees that regularly drinking alcohol can increase the risk of developing breast cancer and supports new guidance which suggests women should reduce consumption to below 14 units per week.
Alcohol is one of a number of environmental and lifestyle factors which affect breast cancer risk. Breast Cancer UK is calling for a cancer prevention strategy that is based on a comprehensive understanding of all risk factors, including exposure to potentially harmful chemicals in our environment and everyday products.
We would also advise women to read our guidance on how they can reduce their risk of exposure to harmful chemicals which can disrupt hormones and increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
The new guidelines can be found here
The CoC report can be found here
 Parkin, D., Boyd, L., (2010). ‘The Fraction of cancer attributable to lifestyle and environmental factors in the UK in 2010’ British Journal of Cancer (2011) 105, S77-s81