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Drinking Alcohol Raises Breast Cancer Risk as Much as Smoking Cigarettes

Saturday, April 19, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: alcohol, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Consuming three or more alcoholic beverages per day raises a woman's breast cancer risk approximately as much as smoking a pack of cigarettes daily, according to a large-scale study presented at the European Cancer Conference in Barcelona, Spain.

Researchers said that the increase in risk was also equivalent to that from taking estrogen hormones.

The study included 70,033 women in the United States of various different ethnic backgrounds. All participants had received health exams between 1978 in 1985. By the year 2004, 2,829 of the women had received a breast cancer diagnosis.

Women who drank three or more alcoholic beverages per day had a 30 percent higher breast cancer risk than women who consumed less than one drink a day. Women who consumed once to two drinks daily had a 10 percent higher risk.

There was no significant difference between red wine, white wine, beer or liquor in terms of the increased cancer risk, and all results were consistent across age and ethnic groups.

"Population studies have consistently linked drinking alcohol to an increased risk of female breast cancer," said researcher Arthur Klatsky. "But there has been little data, most of it conflicting, about an independent role played by the choice of beverage type."

He noted that while few women drink heavily, a 30 percent increase in risk is so significant that it may account for up to 5 percent of all breast cancer cases.

Klatsky commented that it is unclear why red wine has benefits for the heart but still increases breast cancer risk, speculating that red wine may reduce risk factors of cardiovascular disease that are unrelated to breast cancer.

"The coronary benefit from drinking red wine may also be related to favorable drinking patterns common among wine drinkers or to the favorable traits of wine drinkers, as evidenced by US and Danish studies," he said.

According to Klatsky, the main conclusion to be drawn from the study is that heavy drinkers have yet another reason to "quit or cut down."

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