Quiz: The Alcohol-Cancer Connection

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


November 23, 2015

Research on breast cancer and alcohol to date has not identified a level of alcohol consumption that is completely risk-free. The risk for breast cancer is linear and dose-dependent in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. In one recent study, for each 10-g/day increase in alcohol intake, the hazard ratio for breast cancer increased by 4.2% (95% confidence interval, 2.7%-5.8%).[6] Even a single daily drink, on average, raises breast cancer risk, regardless of smoking, lifestyle factors, or other exposures.

Questions about balancing cardiovascular benefits of alcohol with cancer risk are common, and the answers depend on age and other factors. In a woman of this age, particularly if she has not yet borne children, she is more likely to benefit from limiting her alcohol consumption to reduce her breast cancer risk than to attain any cardiovascular benefits from alcohol.


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