Just one alcoholic drink a day can increase breast cancer risk

Drinking just one alcoholic drink a day can increase breast cancer risk, our new Continuous Update Project report reveals.

23 May 2017

Our report found strong evidence that drinking the amount of alcohol found in a small glass of wine or half a pint of beer a day could increase your risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer by 5% and your risk of post-menopausal breast cancer by 9%.

This robust scientific report evaluated all of the research worldwide on how diet, weight and physical activity affect breast cancer risk. It also found that exercise can decrease breast cancer risk. For pre-menopausal breast cancer, vigorous exercise that increases heart rate – such as cycling, swimming or running – is important; whereas for post-menopausal breast cancer both moderate (such as brisk walking) and vigorous levels of activity can reduce risk.

In addition, the report showed that being overweight or obese increases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer. Being overweight or obese is also linked to several other cancers, including liver, pancreatic and bowel cancers.

Dr Rachel Thompson, Head of Research Interpretation at World Cancer Research Fund, said:

“To help prevent breast cancer, one of the most important steps people can take is to avoid drinking alcohol or reduce the amount of alcohol they drink.

“Maintaining a healthy weight and getting enough exercise are also important for preventing breast cancer.

“It may be the most common cancer in women worldwide, but our evidence shows that there are steps that women can take to significantly reduce their breast cancer risk.

> Read more about breast cancer