Alcohol 'increases risk of breast cancer'

Every alcoholic drink a woman consumes increases her risk of breast cancer, the world's largest study of the link between alcohol, tobacco and breast cancer has found.

Every alcoholic drink a woman consumes increases her risk of breast cancer, the world's largest study of the link between alcohol, tobacco and breast cancer has found.

Drinking is rising, especially among young women, and the researchers estimate it accounts for 2,000 cases of breast cancer out of the 40,000 newly diagnosed each year in Britain. For each drink consumed daily, the study said, the risk increased by 6 per cent.

Yet moderate drinking also cuts the risk of heart disease by up to a fifth, is the most widely used social lubricant and brings pleasure to millions. Doctors said women had to weigh up the risks and benefits for themselves.

The study also unexpectedly showed that smoking did not contribute to breast cancer, even though it is linked with 15 other types and is thought to be a cause of a third of all cancers. Scientists from Cancer Research UK combined the results of more than 50 studies involving 150,000 women around the world, of whom 58,000 had breast cancer. The size of the review allowed them for the first time to disentangle the effects of smoking from drinking.

Professor Valerie Beral, co-author of the study published in the British Journal of Cancer, said average alcohol consumption had risen in the past decade. The proportion of women aged 16-24 consuming more than three drinks a day had doubled, to 18 per cent.

"There is a definite link between alcohol and breast cancer. The impact is small compared to childbearing factors [which reduce the risk] but women are drinking more now than they used to and if this trend continues it is bound to have an impact on rates of breast cancer."

Sir Richard Doll, Britain's top cancer researcher and an author of the study, said the benefits of moderate drinking on the heart could outweigh the higher risk of cancer, especially for younger women.

He said: "A lot of things in life carry a small risk and moderate drinking gives pleasure."

The underlying risk of breast cancer means that in non-drinkers, by the age of 80, there will be 8.8 cases per 100 women.

This increases to 9.4 cases for those who have one alcoholic drink daily and to 13.3 cases for those who have six drinks each day.

One drink is defined as containing 8g of alcohol, equivalent to approximately half a pint of beer, a glass of wine or a single measure of spirits.

Jean Coussins, director of the Portman Group, the drinks industry's self-regulatory body, said: "This research underlines the crucial importance of the sensible drinking message being taken on board particularly by 16 to 24-year-old women. The Government should be putting significant resources into a targeted public education campaign."

The charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer said it had been concerned for some time about the possible relationship between alcohol and breast cancer.

"The study published today goes some way to confirm our fears," a spokeswoman said. "The causes of breast cancer are complex and further research in this area is needed to prove a causal link.

"However, adopting a healthy lifestyle and diet can help reduce the risk of developing cancer in general and we would encourage people, if they do drink alcohol, to do so in moderation."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
people
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Assistant Marketing & PR Manager

    £16 - £17 per hour: Ashdown Group: Marketing & PR Assistant - Kentish Town are...

    Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

    £50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

    Systems Developer Technical Lead

    £65000 - £70000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

    Energy Engineer

    £25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment