NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Just one alcoholic drink per day increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer, according to a major new report from the American Institute for Cancer Research.
But as CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, the report also found a way to reduce breast cancer risk.
Patty Marher beat the breast cancer she developed three years go, but she had to go through 10 courses of chemotherapy and six weeks of daily radiation treatment. And when she heard of a new report linking alcohol and breast cancer, Marher was a little surprised.
“I’m not a big drinker by any stretch of the imagination,” Mahrer said.
But the new report from the American Institute for Cancer Research analyzed 119 studies encompassing data on 12 million women from around the world, and found that just one alcoholic drink a day – that is one beer, a small glass of wine or a weak cocktail – can raise the risk for developing breast cancer by 5 percent for premenopausal women. For postmenopausal women, the increased risk jumps to 9 percent.
“It doesn’t sound like a big number, but when you think of the average risk of breast cancer – which is one in eight – and we’re adding on top of that, it starts to become larger,” said Dr. Susan Boolbol of Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital.
On the positive side, the report also evaluated data on exercise and breast cancer and found that premenopausal women who did moderate to vigorous exercise reduced their breast cancer risk by 17 percent. It was the first time that exercise has been shown to reduce breast cancer in this younger age group.
Postmenopausal women reduced their risk by 10 percent with exercise.
So what is to be made of the somewhat conflicting findings.
“I don’t think that the message here is don’t drink at all, because that’s just not reality-based for most adults,” Boolbol said. “I think this gives us a reason to pause and ask how much do you drink, and where can I cut back a little bit?”
Experts advised that if you have two drinks a day, try just to have one, or to skip a day. Every little bit may help.
Further, moderate alcohol intake has heart benefits. So like everything else, it is balancing competing risks and benefits – except for exercise, which is good for the heart and also reduces cancer risk.