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Can Alcohol Trigger a Latent Breast Cancer Gene?

Written by Courteney

Posted on September 5, 2016 at 11:14 pm


It is common knowledge that drinking alcohol raises your risk of developing certain conditions such as cardiovascular disease, but can it also contribute directly to breast cancer? The answer is yes. According to multiple studies gathered by the American Cancer Society, as well as a particularly illuminating study conducted by a team of cancer biologists and researchers from the University of Houston, regular alcohol consumption is directly linked to escalating risk of breast cancer development in women.

How Does Drinking Alcohol Raise Breast Cancer Risk?

Alcohol can raise the risk of breast cancer in several ways:

  1. By increasing estrogen levels in the body which can contribute to hormone receptor positive cancer development.
  2. By damaging cells – alcohol is known to mutate healthy cells into harmful ones that make any part of the body more vulnerable to cancer, including breast tissue.
  3. By activating a latent cancer gene and decreasing the effectiveness of cancer medications: According to University of Houston cancer biologist Chin-Yo Lin, “Our research shows alcohol enhances the actions of estrogen in driving the growth of breast cancer cells and diminishes the effects of the cancer drug Tamoxifen on blocking estrogen by increasing the levels of a cancer-causing gene called BRAF.”

How Many Drinks Increase This Risk?

Even consuming 1 alcoholic beverage daily increases a woman’s breast cancer risk. According to the Breast Cancer Organization those who regularly consume 3-5 drinks have a 15% higher chance of developing breast cancer than women who don’t drink at all, with the risk rising by 10% with each additional drink consumed on a daily basis.

What About Cocktail Hour?

We aren’t saying women should never drink – we simply hope to make people aware of this research-established link between breast cancer and regular alcohol consumption. If you are a moderate drinker who is concerned about your breast cancer risk, there are ways you can curb your alcohol intake but still enjoy socializing. You can enjoy your favorite drinks ‘virgin style’ or opt for a couple social drinks a week instead of a couple daily indulgences. The Cancer Organization suggests limiting alcohol consumption to no more than 1 daily drink for women.

Other Lifestyle Factors To Watch

Aside from watching alcohol intake, there are other lifestyle changes you can make to help decrease your breast cancer risk. While making these changes doesn’t guarantee you won’t develop cancer, behaviors that may help you beat the odds include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Keeping your weight in check
  • Practicing caution when it comes to birth control or hormone therapy
  • Limiting toxin exposure

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