Just one drink a day 'may raise breast cancer risk

"Just one drink a day raises breast cancer risk" is the front page headline in the Daily Mail following the results of a new study. While the health risks of heavy drinking are well established, the effects of light drinking are less clear.

The study, which involved almost 136,000 people, found women who drank the equivalent of a glass of wine a day over a 30-year period were 13% more likely to develop one of the alcohol-related cancers (breast cancer being the most common) than women who didn't drink at all.

The study found low to moderate drinking increased the risk of certain types of cancers already thought to be linked to alcohol, but only among women or people who smoked. Men who didn't smoke and drank moderately had no increased risk of any type of cancer. But these were relatively small risk increases for low to moderate drinking for heavier drinking were much greater.

In an accompanying editorial, the lead researcher recommends "women with a family history of breast cancer should consider reducing their alcohol intake to below recommended limits (no more than 2-3 units a day), or even abstaining altogether". And all people, whatever their medical history, are recommended to take a break from drinking a few days a week.

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