Breast Cancer Risk Rises even with Light Alcohol Use

A new study concludes that all levels of alcohol use - even light drinking - are associated with raised risk for breast cancer, with higher consumption linked to higher risk. The researchers also summarize the biological mechanism behind the link and the impact on global breast cancer incidence and deaths due to drinking.

The paper, authored by Dr. Kevin D. Shield from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, and colleagues, is published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

The findings address a long-standing debate about whether light alcohol consumption is linked to raised risk of  breast cancer.  The link between alcohol consumption and cancer was officially declared in 1987, when a working group of the IARC - an agency of the World Health Organization (WHO) - listed cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and liver as "causally related to the consumption of alcoholic beverages."

Since then, many studies have found links between alcohol consumption and breast cancer, and another study conducted n 2007 by the IARC added breast cancer and colon cancer to the former list of cancers.