We know regular or heavy alcohol consumption can raise the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, but what about those of us who already have a breast cancer history? What does the research say about the safety or danger of drinking alcohol?
One meta-analysis of 25 studies concluded there seems to be a dose-response relationship between alcohol consumption and breast cancer recurrence or death. This means ingesting more than 20 grams/day of alcohol increases risk of breast cancer recurrence, metastasis and death. (A standard 5 ounce serving of wine contains about 10 grams.) The heaviest alcohol consumption will produce the greatest risk of breast cancer recurrence. This is one reason the physician authors of After Cancer Care recommend breast cancer patients and survivors avoid alcohol. Indeed, a more recent study lists drinking alcohol among the risk factors for breast cancer recurrence.
If you are concerned about the amount of alcohol you or a family member affected by breast cancer are consuming, please seek professional help. For more information on serving size, visit Rethinking Drinking. And remember to focus on creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself in the context of breast cancer. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, moving your body, eating healthy foods, and managing stress. Reducing or avoiding alcohol is but one ingredient in your recipe for thriving after breast cancer.