Five Spanish universities and more than 300,000
female volunteers participated in a European
investigation that is now confirming that alcohol
intake increases the chances of developing breast
cancer. This risk quadruples with the intake of each
daily glass of wine or beer.
Thanks to the altruistic collaboration of 334,850
women between the ages of 35 and 70 from ten
European countries, an international team of
researchers has once again corroborated the link
between alcohol consumption and an increased risk of
suffering from breast cancer.
Five Spanish universities (Asturias, Granada,
Murcia, Navarra and San Sebastián) participated in
this investigation which forms part of the EPIC
Study (European Prospective Investigation into
Cancer and Nutrition), financed by the European
Union and coordinated by the International Agency
for Research on Cancer.
The results of the study confirm previous evidence
concerning the relationship between alcohol intake
and breast cancer. Of all of the females examined,
11,576 were diagnosed with breast cancer over the
course of the eleven-year monitoring study.
María Dolores Chirlaque, one of the Spanish
scientists who forms part of the EPIC team, explains
to SINC that "a woman's average risk of being
diagnosed with breast cancer increases by 4% with
each additional 10 grams/day of alcohol. In other
words, a daily intake of one glass of wine or beer –
or less – would correspond to a risk value of 1.
However, if we increase our intake to two daily
glasses of wine or beer, our risk would rise by 4%".
Percentages rise as intake increases. Using a
reference value between 0 and 5 grams per day, an
increase of up to 15 grams/day is linked to a 5.9%
greater risk of breast cancer, adds the professor
from the University of Murcia.
The number of years of exposure to alcohol intake
also influences a woman's risk of developing breast
cancer. Thus, the longer a woman has been exposed to
alcohol consumption, the greater a risk she has,
especially if alcohol intake began before her first
"Alcohol intake is a breast cancer risk factor that
can be changed by a personal decision to form
healthy habits. Hence, women must be advised and
forewarned of the possibility they have to control
this factor," states the researcher.
As the authors of this study have concluded, these
effects were observed in both
hormone-receptor-negative as well as
hormone-receptor-positive tumours, "so everything
points to non-hormonal causes that need to be
For more informations
Elio Riboli et al.: ‘Alcohol intake and breast
cancer in the European prospective investigation
into cancer and nutrition’. Int. J. Cancer: 137,