Drinking just one glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer risk, finds a major new report by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).The report also revealed, for the first time, that vigorous exercise such as running or fast bicycling decreases the risk of both pre- and post-menopausal breast cancers. Strong evidence confirmed an earlier finding that moderate exercise decreases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer.
“It can be confusing with single studies when the findings get swept back and forth,” said Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, a lead author of the report and cancer prevention expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
“With this comprehensive and up-to-date report the evidence is clear: Having a physically active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and limiting alcohol — these are all steps women can take to lower their risk.”
Dr. Stegall’s Comments: The link seen in this study between alcohol consumption and breast cancer is not new. Other studies have suggested that alcohol plays a small role in breast cancer risk. The question becomes, how much alcohol is okay and how much is too much? I typically encourage patients to drink no more than one alcoholic drink per day, with an ideal being one drink several times per week. There are benefits from some alcoholic drinks, such as red wine, and I feel that any risks of alcohol in this setting is probably neutralized by other healthy habits such as regular exercise and good nutrition.