About a year ago or so I saw an article in the newspaper about the link between breast cancer and alcohol. The study appeared to be very solid and the results alarming. In the hoopla of pink bows, pink merchandise and fun runs for breast cancer awareness I waited for an outcry, or at least some effort, at educating women on the link between alcohol and breast cancer and it never happened. I wanted someone to take this topic on and then decided to do it myself! Here are some facts for thought:
- Alcohol is one of the most well-established causes of cancer.
- The International Agency for Research into Cancer has classified alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen since 1988. (IARC’s rulings are the gold standard in terms of determining if something causes cancer, and Group 1 is their highest risk category.)
- More recent reviews by IARC and other agencies have also concluded that drinking alcohol causes cancer.
- Alcohol causes seven known types of cancer, including breast, mouth and bowel cancers
- Breast are especially vulnerable because alcohol can increase levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol also may increase breast cancer risk by damaging DNA in cells.
- Compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer. Experts estimate that the risk of breast cancer goes up another 10% for each additional drink women regularly have each day
- Teen and tween girls aged 9 to 15 who drink three to five drinks a week have three times the risk of developing benign breast lumps. (Certain categories of non-cancerous breast lumps are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer later in life.)
One reason people drink is the social aspect, participating with the group and having something to hold while we socialize. You may choose to stop drinking alcohol completely. But if you plan to continue drinking, try to have two or fewer alcoholic drinks per week. When those social occasions arise try these options:
- Mocktails — drinks that use all the ingredients of cocktails except for the alcohol — are available just about everywhere.
- The makers of non-alcoholic beer, wine, and champagne have improved the taste of their products and these, too, are widely available.
- Sparkling water with a little juice
- Good old fashioned water on the rocks
- If you just like to sit and relax with a drink at the end of the day try herbal tea
Hey, would you help spread the word?
By Sherry Stirling Fernandez