Links Between Alcohol Consumption and Breast Cancer

A Look at the Evidence

Ying Liu; Nhi Nguyen; Graham A Colditz


Women's Health. 2015;11(1):65-77. 

In This Article

Future Perspective

It is estimated that 10.8 million young people in the USA between the ages of 12 and 20 years (28.2% of this age group) are current drinkers, of which nearly 7.2 million (18.8%) are binge drinkers, and 2.3 million (6.0%) are heavy drinkers. Hence, future studies are needed to examine drinking patterns over the lifetime in relation to breast cancer risk. In addition, little is known about what components of lifestyles could modify the adverse effect of alcohol consumption on breast cancer development.

A better understanding of the biologic changes stimulated by alcohol leading to cancer in breast tissue would help develop novel markers that could be used in cancer prevention by allowing us to identify a subgroup of the most susceptible women and providing therapy targets. In particular, identification of the molecular processes linking alcohol to breast cancer would provide guidance on safe levels of alcohol drinking and could provide the basis for women's informed decisions regarding frequency and volume of alcohol consumption.