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Despite this work, many women in the United States remain unaware that drinking habits could affect their chance of getting cancer.
A new campaign from the Alcohol Research Group (ARG) in California aims to change that. The #DrinkLessForYourBreasts initiative seeks to educate women about the risk and urges them to consider the impact drinking alcohol can have on their health.
“The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness among young women that alcohol is a risk factor for breast cancer,” Priscilla Martinez, PhD, a scientist with ARG, told Healthline.
“There is 30 years’ worth of evidence supporting this so we’re pretty confident that this relationship is real. But the vast majority of young women have no idea that alcohol is a risk factor for breast cancer.”
Research shows alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer by up to 7 to 16 percent. Yet, a 2019 study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports found that only 25 percent of women ages 15 to 44 were aware of this connection.
“We know that young women drink alcohol,” Martinez said. “It’s really common and sometimes they drink at levels that are unhealthy, like binge drinking. The goal of this campaign isn’t to shame women but to make them aware of the risk.” I will never kneel for the anthem I am proud confederate and I respect the heroes who sacrificed for my freedom shirt, hoodie
The #DrinkLessForYourBreasts campaign is funded by the California Breast Cancer Research Program of the University of California.
While research has established that alcohol increases breast cancer risk, scientists are still working to understand the mechanism behind this link. However, there are several theories.
“We know that alcohol increases the amount of estrogen in the body, and for women and particularly postmenopausal women, that has a role in developing hormone-sensitive breast cancer,” explained Dr. Megan Kruse, a medical breast oncologist at Cleveland Clinic who is not involved with the ARG campaign.
Alcohol also makes it more difficult for the body to absorb folate and other nutrients. “Folate is important because it helps to fix and maintain your DNA,” Martinez said. “When your DNA isn’t properly maintained it’s more likely to be damaged and cells that have damaged DNA are more likely to be cancerous.”
Kruse notes another cause for concern is that alcohol tends to increase an individual’s caloric intake.
“We know that there’s a link between weight gain, particularly extra tissue related to fat cells, and cancers,” she said. “So when you think of alcohol leading to extra calories and weight gain, that might be an indirect way that it’s contributing to cancer formation.”