Alcohol linked to breast cancer

The Department of Health are about to start a campaign to encourage women to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed. The news item I saw said that the unpublished study from the DoH suggests that drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week increases risk of BC by 50%. I saw my oncologist on Thursday and one of the questions I asked him was alcohol a direct risk factor in BC and he said categorically no. I don’t suggest that we all go out and get trollied every night, but this seems like another stick to beat us with - in other words, if you have BC, you only have yourself to blame because you drink too much wine etc etc. There must be so many variables as to why we get BC? Off now to get a glass of wine!!

I hate this kind of scarmongering!

As a Mum of two tines, who’s either been breastfeeding or pregnant for all of the past three and a half years I know that I’m not going to beat myself up for a VERY occassional glass of wine!

There is so much conflicting advice with regard to all sorts of issues, that it drives me mad trying to sort the wood from the threes

{{Cheers}} Rebecca

I agree
A glass of wine now and again is something I DON’T intend to give up. But have cut back on amount that I drink (not that I ever drunk masses. I tend to be the one who drives now when we go out for the evening
At least I don’t have to worry about hangovers!


I so agree with “another stick to beat us with”.
I read the article in today’s newspaper and was very angry - then I remembered I don’t do angry anymore as stress causes breast cancer, but not to worry, did some vigorous housework because that will stop it coming back, then exercised the dog for 30 minutes because that will stop it coming back, then sat down and spent 30 minutes thinking really positive thoughts, because that will stop it coming back and then had a nice glass of wine, thought about all the crap that’s written about this shi–y disease, and then laughed at it all - which will most definitely stop it coming back.


Janeyb…thankyou for making us smile,you are so right…is there anything we may do that doesnt beat us with a stick,I’m off for a glass or 2 too…keep smiling everyone…Debrax

Hi there, just wanted to say as I am enjoying a nice bottle of chilled white wine tonight which is something I do not intend to give up !! Enjoy my wine too much, and when you consider that there are people out there who drink way beyond what is supposed to be socially acceptable, ( whatever thats meant to be lol ) and who will never be diagnosed with breast cancer, this is something I am not going to beat myself up about !! Since my diagnosis almost 3 yrs ago now, I have had several “interesting” comments from people i.e “oh you still drink alcohol” erm yes and i dont intend to stop… think the absolute classic though was when telling a neighbour I was off to Majorca last summer the quote was " oh are you allowed in the sun now"… aaarrggghhhhh. All this scaremongering which gets reported in the media only fuels ignorant peoples minds and does nothing to actually help the people going through a breast cancer experience.

Yes, do understand the scaremongers - what else do these researchers do to justifiy their jobs? From what I have gleaned from media reports today, thery have identified some 2,000 women dx with bc , from drinking 14 units per week. How do they collerate that with the 44,000 or women dx with bc each year? And, more iimportantly,why do so many younger women die of bc when they have never over imbided or indeed are teetotal?
|Off to have another glass of white wine…I do need some semblance of a balance in my life.


What always irks me about these stories is that they never mention the fact that there are all different types of BC. In my case Her2+. Now I asked a relative of mines who is an oncology Professor and he told me that as far as they know, the growth factor that causes this will switch off in most women at the age of 28, but in some it keeps going and causes Her2+ BC; he also told me that in my case the gene probably mutated 10 years before it became a cancer. He told me that they do know there is a link between BC and alcohol, but it relates to BCs that are hormone positive; research would suggest that if you drink too much you gain weight therefore produce more oestrogen and of course they are saying this is why overweight post menopausal women are more at risk.

These studies are often very misleading and I don’t think women should beat themselves up about them. I heard this on the radio on Friday night, when the mentioned the 50% increased chance I saif to him “50% of what?”. He is a qualified chemist who has worked in or around science in one form or another all his adult life and he said “exactly”.

I wish the reports of this Dept of Health announcement were more detailed and we could see the research base on which it is founded. This is not the first report to show that alcohol intake may be an increased risk factor…in this case particularly for some post menopausal womem (there’ s a hefty slice of moralism in the reports about professioanl women…who don’t understand he size of the glasses of wine they drink…)

I think ever since the causal link was discoverd between smoking and lung cancer there has been a tendency to try to attribute a similar single cause to other cancers…and actually that approach doesn’t work. In the case of breast cancer scientists agree that that there are many risk factors and that the ‘cause’ of breast cancer is multi factorial.

I guess that my own drinking may have increased my risk of breast cancer and contributed to my getting it…as did getting over 50 and never having children…but such links don’t establish a ‘cause’ and neither am I going to beat myself up about my lifestyle, nor stop drinking now.I don’t agree that its all crap that is written about the causes of this disease, and I do think alcohol probably plays a part in some breast cancers, but the reprorting of some of the links is superficial…and at times desperate…can’t find a cause for breast cancer? can’t prevent it? can’t treat it? can’t stop women dying of it in their thousands? Well go ahead then and blame the patient…particularly fickle women who don’t know the size of their wine glasses…


Do you think this campaign is about to start just at the time when the government are going to increase taxes on alcohol or is it just a coincidence? They can now nod their heads that this is justified to protect the feckless from themselves. The biggest established factors in developing BC are starting your periods early and beginning menopause late, having no children or having them later in life and most of all, the biggest risk is growing old!!I can see what could happen if the government started a campaign saying - now ladies, don’t grow old or start the menopause too late or what about - you must have your children under 30 and don’t dare have none!! Targetting lifestyle is so easy to do and what a load of crap about women underestimating the size of the glass. Who thinks up these ridiculous schemes?


What’s been released so far is so vague - if you drink more than 14 units per week your risk is increased by 50%, but I find it hard to believe that your risk is the same if you drink 15 units or 50 units. Also, how can they isolate alcohol from other factors such as weight, diet, exercise etc when assessing risk?
I don’t have BC but I am high risk due to family history and this report has freaked me out, I now feel I am doing myself damage by having a glass of wine. I find it hard to get my head around statistics but even I can see that this seems to be a random ‘shock value’ statistic used to back up an advertising campaign. The link between slightly increased risk of BC and alcohol is backed up by various studies, but 50%? Surely not?
Zoe x x

Like Cathy says its a load of rubbish!! I did not have one single known risk factor for bc yet I got it at 42!

I asked my onc about alcohol . I was treated at a Centre of Excellence which is at the forefront of cancer treatment in the world and my onc just laughed and said there was no link whatsoever and whatever will they come up with next! He also said that this type of research is flawed as women who drink may also smoke or may also have a poor diet but none of this is factored in. I am not saying that all us tipplers smoke and hae a poor diet but do you see what I mean?

I have always drank in moderation and never smoked . I had children early, started my periods late, have no family history and had no sign of the menopause when I got this bloody thing at 42. So I was text book for not getting it and ye I did! I dont think we will ever know all the answers but I for one will NO be stopping drinking.

Love to all
Alise x

I don’t know how they dare to start a campaign like this without first publishing their findings.

Until they publish I’m ignoring it entirely. That’s just really bad science IMO.

*Catherine Tate voice* “How very dare they”


I had read all the controversy about dairy, so I asked my onc’s opinion on it - his reply was that he had no opinion on dairy, but that I should drink red wine. I have taken him at his word ever since!

I have been thinking about this alot since yesterday and since i was diagnosed last july have read in newspapers and been advised the following contribute towards BC, alcohol, high blood sugar levels, certain food types ie dairy, soya etc, deodorants, weight gain since your teens, early periods, having children or not having children, breast feeding or not breast feeding, too much stress, lemon scented house cleaning products, etc etc im off to bed now and never getting up again, therefore i should avoid getting a reaccurance? maybe?

I’m not sure I would dismiss this report quite so quickly as some of you, though I agree that the press reporting has been superficial. Cancer Research UK is one of the major cancer research organisations and aren’t given to publishing scare stories. From what I’ve read, they aren’t saying that women shouldn’t drink at all, but reminding us that excessive drinking (more than 14 units a week for women) increases the risk of developing bc (currently a life-time risk of at least 1 in 9) and also that the larger glasses of wine which are served in many pubs and clubs actually contain far more than the 125ml which consitutes one unit. The increasing strength of modern wines is also a problem, as the units per week recommendations were devised when wines weren’t as strong. Stronger wine in bigger glasses makes it very easy to drink more than is perhaps healthy for us without realising it. Another worry is the effect of binge drinking, since it appears that it is more damaging to drink a largish number of units very close together (say at the weekend) than to spread them out over the week.

Some of the main risk factors for developing bc - above all getting older - are things we can’t do anything about, Trying to keep our weight at a healthy level, not drinking more than is considered healthy, etc, are more within our control. I’m post-menopausal, have had bc twice in the last 9 years, am considerably overweight and drink perhaps 4 small glasses of wine a week. I can’t do anything about my age unfortunately, but I am working hard to lose weight and I will go on having the odd glass of red and enjoying it. That said, I support CRUK for warning women to be sensible about their drinking and think they would have been wrong not to do so.

Kathy (about to duck…)

The study by Cancer Research in 2002 does state that alcohol does increase the risk of breast cancer and I for one am not disputing the facts. However, if you look at the statistics it says that by the age of 80, if you drink more than 6 drinks a day, this will increase your risk by 4.5% of developing BC than if you drank no alcohol. If I get to age of 80 and I have been drinking 6 units a day, everyday of every week I don’t think developing BC would be my main concern as I would be looking after what would be left of my liver!.. I think the point I was trying to raise is yes, we should all be sensible about trying to live as healthy a life as possible, not just to prevent BC but many of the other main killers such as heart disease and other types of cancer. However, the biggest factors linked to breast cancer are out of our control. So instead of spending money on a campaign to curb drinking by victim blaming, the government could spend the money on researching ways of reducing the factors that do have a more significant impact. I just get mad at the powers that be finding more ways to put the blame on the patient. They have already stopped operations on people who are overweight and who smoke so the next thing will be no BC treatment if you drink more than the 14units a week. It would cut down on the waiting lists, I suppose.

Cathy (the cynical one)

So why is it friends of mine who drink far more than me haven’t got BC???
I drank alot about 18months before DX because of bereavement and realtionship probs and other probs, have persecuted myself in the last few year thinking i brought BC on myself. However i have decided recently NO more self criticism etc. I am going to enjoy life and know i was just unfortunate to get this crap disease. whether i am fortunate enough to live many yrs cancer free or not I know its not alchol which has caused cancer or diet or lifestyle its just one of those things.

Jane loved yoru postin, as always well said.

Bargain Booze have a wonderful offer on buy one get one free on WOLF BASS!!!


Oooh, I love Wolf Bass - its quite expensive so I don’t normally buy it - usually buy the cheap vinegary tat which tastes disgusting at first, but develops quite a nice flavour after a few glasses, so that would be a nice treat! However, as I am one of those poor ignorant women the government believes don’t realise the size of the wine glass, I guess I would be better off just swigging it straight from the bottle, then I can keep count much better!!



I would like to add at this point that Morrisons has some rather nice dangrousely strong organic shiraz at a meager £3.50 a bottle at the moment in case any of you have the same point of view as me.

Don’t drink in excess, eat/drink organic where possible aand enjoy life.

At 3.50 a bottle for organic wine well I’m not beating myself up… It’s organic after all :slight_smile: