Alcohol and Breast Cancer: Important Health Facts to Save Your Life

The Study: Alcohol and Breast Cancer

Researchers studied the connection between drinking alcohol and breast cancer. They wanted to learn the role of family breast cancer history and folate consumption on the disease.

To do so, they followed 93,835 women in the U.S. aged 27 to 44 for 20 years. The women were participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II. All gave alcohol drinking information at the beginning of this particular study.

The investigators examined alcohol and folate intake every four years thereafter. They found that overall risk of breast cancer was not related to alcohol consumption.

However, higher alcohol consumption was associated with increased risk of breast cancer among one group. It was those with both family history of breast cancer and lower folate intake. (Lower folate intake was < 400 μg/d.)


alcohol and breast cancerWe can’t change our family history. But we can increase our intake of folate. Folate is  another name for folic acid or vitamin B9. Folate is an essential nutrient. Therefore, countries such as the U.S., Canada, and Chile require various foods to be enriched with it. Most commonly enriched is flour and breakfast cereals.

The word folate comes from the Latin “folium.” That means leaf. Not surprisingly, leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce, are great sources of folate. Other foods high in folate include asparagus, avocados, and Brussels sprouts. Of course, folate is also available as a nutritional supplement.

Much research reports that folate reduces any risk of alcohol and breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of breast cancer differ from person to person. However, any change in a breast or nipple might be a sign of the disease. Therefore, a doctor or other health care professional should investigate it promptly.

  • alcohol and breast cancerDimpling of the skin or skin irritation.
  • Discharge from a nipple (other than milk).
  • Lump in the iunderarm area.
  • Nipple pain or nipple turning inward.
  • Pain in a breast.
  • Redness or thickening of breast skin or nipple
  • Swelling of part or all of a breast

Breast self-examination is the best way to detect possible signs of breast cancer early. Learn how. It’s easy. And it could save your life. Remember that the sooner breast cancer is detected, the greater the chance of successful treatment.

Popular Resources

This is a list of popular books and videos.

American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Clear & Simple: All Your Questions Answered. Atlanta: The Society, 2016.

Bidwell, C. Cancer Insights: Chronicles of a Couple’s Journey through Breast Cancer. La Vergne, TN: IngramSpark, 2015.

Bryfonski, D. Breast Cancer. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven, 2016.

alcohol and breast cancerBuratovich, M., and Jackson-Grusby, L. Cancer. Ipswich, MA: Salem, 2016.

Conley, E. The Breast Cancer Prevention Plan. 20 proven steps for reducing your breast cancer risk. NY: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Crocker, B. Betty Crocker Living with Cancer Cookbook. Hoboken: Wiley, 2014.

Elk, R., et al. Breast Cancer for Dummies. Milton, Qld: John Wiley, 2006.

Gafni, R. Ramy Gafni’s Beauty Therapy: The Ultimate Guide to Looking and Feeling Great while Living with Cancer. NY: Evans, 2005.

Gingrass, S. I’ve got Breast Cancer – Now What?. Adriel, 2016.

Harrison, T. In-between Days. A Graphic Memoir about Living with Cancer. Toronto: Anansi, 2016.

Kanopy (firm). Living with Breast Cancer. San Francisco: Kanopy, 2016. eVideo.

Krychman, M. 100 Questions and Answers for Women Living with Cancer. A Practical Guide for Survivorship. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett, 2007.

Lindenmuth, K., et al. Caring for the Caregivers. Living with Cancer. Libra Verde, 2014. DVD video.

Link, J. Breast Cancer Survival Manual. A Step-by-step Guide for the Woman with Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer. NY: Owl, 2012.

Omnigraphics, Inc. Breast Cancer Sourcebook. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2016.

Source for Alcohol and Breast Cancer

Kim, J., Jung, S., Eliassen, A., Chen, W., Willett, W., and Cho, E. Alcohol and breast cancer risk by family history of breast cancer and folate intake in younger women. Am J Epid., 2017. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwx137. [Epub ahead of print]