Alcohol and Breast Cancer: How Many Drinks Are OK?

Now that Breast Cancer Awareness Month is coming to a close, I want to say that it is great that women can discuss breast health issues in an open and nonjudgmental manner. In addition, research is the reason that many advances have been made in the past several years. We do have a long way to go, but we can support the effort by donating a few dollars to a breast cancer research organization or by participating in clinical trials. It all counts!

Now that Breast Cancer Awareness Month is coming to a close, I want to say that it is great that women can discuss breast health issues in an open and nonjudgmental manner. In addition, research is the reason that many advances have been made in the past several years. We do have a long way to go, but we can support the effort by donating a few dollars to a breast cancer research organization or by participating in clinical trials. It all counts!

I wanted to share with you some information about alcohol and breast cancer. There have been several studies on this topic, and for the most part, research shows that alcohol consumption increases the risk for breast cancer. A few recent studies have shown that not only does alcohol increase risk but that this was dependent on the amount that was consumed. In other words, the more you drink, the greater the risk. The type of alcohol did not seem to make a difference. These studies have also estimated a 20-30% increased risk if you had 2 or more drinks per day. Alcohol consumption and the development of abnormal breast tissue may be related because alcohol can increase the production of estrogen. So what should a breast-health-conscious-but-wine-loving woman do?  My recommendations are:


  1. One drink per day or less is best.
  2. It does not matter what type of liquor you choose.
  3. If you tend to drink on weekends only, then have no more than 7 drinks during the weekend days.
  4. If you overindulge a little, remember to cut back in the future.
  5. Alcohol consumption is a modifiable (something you can do about) risk factor for breast cancer.
  6. Empower yourself!

The key is moderation. If you combine this with other healthy habits, you can lower your risk for breast cancer. Next week, I will talk about breast MRI and who should get one.

Dr. Lee

4 Steps to Shedding Your Pandemic Pounds

Forgive yourself, and start walking toward a healthier you.

For those of you who have put on the Pandemic Pounds or added several new COVID Curves, you are not alone. Alarmingly, the American Psychological Association has recently published that almost half of all adults in their survey now have a larger physique. In fact, 42% of people reported gaining roughly 15 pounds (the average published was surprisingly 29 pounds but that included outliers) over the past year. Interestingly, 20% of adults in this survey lost about 12 pounds (I am surely not in this group). Clearly, there is a relationship between stress and weight change. In addition, one in four adults disclosed an increase in alcohol consumption, and 67% of participants distressingly revealed that they have new sleeping patterns.

This past year has brought about what has been called the 'new normal.' Social isolation and inactivity due to quarantining and remote working have sadly contributed to the decline in many people's mental and physical health, as demonstrated by the widespread changes in people's weight, alcohol consumption, and sleeping patterns. Gym closures, frequent ordering of unhealthy takeout, and increased time at home cooking and devouring comfort foods have had a perceptible impact. In addition, many people have delayed routine medical care and screening tests over fear of contracting Covid-19 during these visits. Unfortunately, the 'new normal' has now placed too many people at risk for serious health consequences, including heart attacks and strokes.

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