Dispatch: Drinking and Breast Cancer

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Middle-aged women who average just one alcoholic drink a day may be nearly doubling their risk of a certain type of breast cancer, according to a study of 90,000 women published yesterday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Those who had seven or more drinks a week were 1.82 times as likely to develop lobular cancer as those who didn’t drink at all.

“Excessive alcohol consumption has been causally linked with breast cancer, but there is little evidence that small amounts daily increase risks of breast cancer,” says ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “In this study, the most common form of pre-cancer of the breast — ductal carcinoma — was not increased with daily alcohol consumption.”

Ductal cancer accounts for 70 percent of all breast cancer, while lobular cancer only makes up about 10 to 15 percent of all cases, study author Dr. Christopher Li tells the Daily Mail (U.K.).

Dr. Whelan says there’s evidence folic acid supplementation can lessen or negate the effects of alcohol on breast cancer risk. Moderate alcohol consumption also has other health benefits, as ACSH has noted previously.