Moderate Alcohol Intake Is Fine for the Heart, but It Boosts Breast Cancer Risk

Drinking light-to-moderate quantities of wine, beer or some other alcoholic beverage (one drink per day max for women and two for men) may help stave off cardiovascular disease, the leading killer in the U.S., but there’s a downside: increased breast cancer risk for women.

The latest evidence review, published by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), suggests a strong relationship between alcohol consumption and higher risk of breast cancer in women. And there is no safe consumption level—for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed (a standard drink is 14 g), breast cancer risk increases 5%. Nutritional factors that may lower breast cancer risk include eating lots of nonstarchy vegetables, dairy, carotenoids and calcium, though the evidence for this is limited.

The AICR estimates that 1 in 3 cases of breast cancer could be avoided by eliminating alcohol consumption, engaging in vigorous physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight.


Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD

Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD, is a registered dietitian and a recent graduate of the UNC School of Medicine. She has made several appearances as a nutrition expert on CW's San Diego 6, been quoted as a fitness expert in the New York Times, and is an ACE master trainer and award-winning author. She is currently pursuing a residency in pediatrics.
Certifications: ACE, ACSM and NSCA

Leave a Comment