DENVER (CBS4) – A new study shows women who drink even small amounts of alcohol have a higher risk for breast cancer.
“The idea that drinking alcohol can raise the risk of breast cancer in women isn’t a new one,” CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida said. “But most of the research has centered on women who have two or more drinks every day.”
The new study looked at the effects of smaller amounts of alcohol over the course of decades. It followed more than 100,000 women for 28 years.
Women who had a small amount of alcohol regularly, such as a drink a day or every other day, had a 15 percent increase in breast cancer. That’s compared to a 51 percent jump in women who had two or more drinks every day.
“Why might any amount of alcohol increase the risk? We’re not sure but it may be due to how alcohol affects hormones which allow tumors to form,” Hnida said.
Two or more drinks per day can be a problem; but how about the occasional drink? With a 15 percent rise in risk Hnida said women probably don’t have to stop drinking altogether.
“Fifteen percent is not that big — and even then — remember that small amounts of alcohol is heart protective, so having a drink now and then is probably more helpful than harmful for most women,” Hnida said.
More than a drink a day significantly raises the risk of breast cancer and also the risk of a heart attack.
“It’s a good study with an important message,” Hnida said.
The type of alcohol — beer, wine or liquor — did not make a difference in the study.
The study appears in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association. Read more about the study on CBSNews.com.