Roughly 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. With this outstanding number in mind, many women ponder what can be done to reduce breast cancer risk. While a genetic predisposition for development of cancer cannot be altered there are other factors that can be modified. One such modifiable risk factor is alcohol consumption.


Does alcohol increase risk for development of breast cancer?

Compared to women who drink less than one drink daily, women who regularly drink 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day have a statistically significant increased lifetime risk for the development of breast cancer. This risk further increases when consumption exceeds 3 drinks per day.

However, not all alcohol consumption is noted to have deleterious impact on health; consumption of alcohol between 3-5 drinks per week is actually associated with reduced all-cause mortality in women.


What is one drink anyway?

One drink equals 12 ounces of 5% beer, 5 ounces of 12.5% wine, or 1.5 ounces of 40% hard liquor.


Does alcohol consumption matter when it comes to breast cancer outcomes?

A large observational study of over 7,000 women concluded that there was no increased risk for overall or all cause mortality in women who consumed alcohol before or after breast cancer diagnosis.


Does alcohol impact risk for recurrence of breast cancer?

In a 2013 publication evaluating risk for recurrence, women who were postmenopausal at time of breast cancer diagnosis and regularly consume more than 4 drinks per week had nearly 20% higher risk of recurrence than those who drank less. However, there was no difference in recurrence risk in women who were premenopausal at the time of their breast cancer diagnosis.


What can you do?

Attempt to keep alcohol consumption down, ideally to three or fewer drinks per week. But reducing alcohol intake does not mean reducing socialization. The next time you want to have a drink consider a mocktail.


Mocktail recipe:

– 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

– 1 ounce homemade simple syrup

– 4 ounces seltzer water

– garnish with fresh fruit or edible flowers

Combine ingredients and enjoy!


For further and more comprehensive advice on how to reduce the risk of breast cancer with specific guidelines regarding diet, exercise, and supplementation, please make an appointment at A Woman’s Time.  I’d be happy to assist you.



  • Kwan ML, Chen WY, Flatt SW, et al. Postdiagnosis alcohol consumption and breast cancer prognosis in the after breast cancer pooling project. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013;22(1):32‐41. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-1022
  • Lowry SJ, Kapphahn K, Chlebowski R, Li CI. Alcohol Use and Breast Cancer Survival among Participants in the Women’s Health Initiative. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2016;25(8):1268‐1273. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-16-0151
  • Newcomb PA, Kampman E, Trentham-Dietz A, et al. Alcohol consumption before and after breast cancer diagnosis: associations with survival from breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other causes. J Clin Oncol. 2013;31(16):1939‐1946. doi:10.1200/JCO.2012.46.5765
  • Romieu I, Scoccianti C, Chajès V, et al. Alcohol intake and breast cancer in the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition. Int J Cancer. 2015;137(8):1921‐1930. doi:10.1002/ijc.29469