Just two drinks a day can increase risk of developing breast cancer by 18%

A new factsheet from Alcohol Concern, released on Monday 22 June, looks at how alcohol increases the risk of developing breast cancer.

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Breast cancer is by far the most prevalent and one of the most lethal cancers for women in the UK. It affects around 1 in 8 women in the UK during their lifetime.

Surveys show that less than half of the British public know of any link between alcohol and cancer, and less than a third of a link between alcohol and breast cancer. However, lifestyle choices – in particular, alcohol – can have a substantial impact on the risk of developing breast cancer.

The factsheet highlights:

  • In 2011, 3,000 of the breast cancer cases were directly attributable to alcohol consumption
  • Each drink per day increases the risk in women of developing breast cancer by between 7% – 12%
  • Alcohol has long been known to have carcinogenic (cancer causing) properties, and more than 50 studies have confirmed alcohol is a particular risk factor in the development of breast cancer
  • The exact causal mechanism between alcohol and breast cancer is not fully known – but it is likely due to the way alcohol breaks down into toxic chemicals in our body and increases the production of the female hormone oestrogen.

Jackie Ballard, Chief Executive at Alcohol Concern, said: “Alcohol has cancer causing properties and it’s important that people are aware of the risks associated with its use.

“Although there is no ‘safe’ level of alcohol consumption, sticking to government guidelines is a reliable way of minimising alcohol-related health risks. The recommended limit for women is 2-3 units a day, and for men 3-4 units and everyone should have 2-3 alcohol free days each week.”


Notes to editors

This factsheet is the third in a series to be published by Alcohol Concern, highlighting the risks alcohol has on different health conditions.

The factsheet has been funded by a grant from the Pink Ribbon Foundation – a grant making trust with a mission to fund projects and provide financial support to UK charities which relieve the needs of people who are suffering from, or who have been affected by breast cancer or who work to advance the understanding of breast cancer, its early detection and treatment.

And to add to the impact Balance North East have created this brilliant video advert which should be on national TV.

Updated to add: Balance North East responded to this blog post on Twitter saying:

Thanks for the mention – great blog – we have more info of alcohol and cancer at

Lots more facts over there and I’ll be adding it to my resources.  Thanks Balance North East!

Edited to add: 21st March 2016

“Our research shows alcohol enhances the actions of oestrogen in driving the growth of breast cancer cells and diminishes the effects of the cancer drug Tamoxifen on blocking oestrogen by increasing the levels of a cancer-causing gene called BRAF.”

Cancer-causing gene triggered by alcohol may increase breast cancer risk


2 thoughts on “Just two drinks a day can increase risk of developing breast cancer by 18%

    1. Hi Louise 🙂 Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog! Yes I saw this news earlier this week. Amazon Prime only customers in the Boston area is being trialed isn’t it? An alcoholics dream indeed …..

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