It might be time to put down that rosé.
A report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research shows that consuming just one drink a day can cause an increased risk of breast cancer in women who are both premenopausal and postmenopausal.
Just how bad could daily drinking be? Well, according to one of the report’s lead authors, Dr. Anne McTiernan, it’s higher than she would have liked to see. In an interview with CNN, McTiernan said that the research found the risk for premenopausal women who have one drink, say, an 8-oz. beer, per day increases by 5%. The risk is even higher for postmenopausal women, whose daily glass of wine can heighten their chances of getting cancer by 9%.
"I was most surprised by the alcohol result, that risk increases at just one drink a day, on average," McTiernan, who researches cancer prevention at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, told CNN. "The increase with one drink a day was small…but, the risk goes up from there. So, that’s why AICR recommends no more than one alcohol drink a day for women to reduce risk for cancer."
What is it about alcohol that seems to spur breast cancer?
Researcher Chin-Yo Lin from University of Houston's Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling, told CNN that it could have a lot to do with estrogen.
"Alcohol consumption is also associated with elevated levels of the female sex hormone estrogen," Lin said. "Excessive cumulative exposure to estrogen is a major risk factor in breast cancer. A number of studies have shown that alcohol can enhance the actions of estrogen in breast cancer cells."
Before you dump all your bubbly down the drain, Lin told CNN that "light drinking appears to protect against heart disease" and that "those beneficial effects should be weighed against the slight increase in breast cancer."
This report is the latest in a slew of warnings issued about what not to do to avoid cancer, from never microwaving plastic to staying away from processed meats. But, sometimes getting cancer can be the fault of mutated genes, which are completely out of our control, scientists have claimed.
Still, as the president continues to push for his budget plan, which calls for an upheaval of Obamacare and a major cut to Medicaid, we can't help but worry about the future of health care for women in the United States — especially for women who can’t afford to see a doctor. After all, even women who get mammograms regularly can sometimes have breast cancer and not know it until it's too late.
For now, we encourage you to get routine breast exams, learn how to examine yourself at home, and fight like hell to save institutions such as Planned Parenthood that provide millions of women with affordable care every year.