A recent report published by the World Cancer Research Fund found that even a small drink every day increases your breast cancer risk.
This comes as some discouraging news for women who enjoy a beer, a glass of wine, or the occasional shot of hard liquor. Although alcohol has long been associated with an increased risk for certain types of cancers, this new evidence shows just how much alcohol affects your risk and what you can do to counteract the effects.
Here’s what researchers found and how exercise can actually reduce your chances of getting breast cancer!
One Drink a Day Affects Your Risk
A small glass of alcohol every day often feels harmless, especially when it comes after a long, hard day at work. At that point, it feels like the alcohol is doing you more good than harm!
However, the opposite is true. Researchers found that just one drink a day—a mere 10 grams of alcohol—increased breast cancer risk by 5% for women who haven’t gone through menopause yet. For women who have gone through menopause, the risk jumps up to 9%.
This is unfortunate considering that the average 5-ounce glass of wine or 12-ounce beer has 14 grams of alcohol in it. This means that 10 grams is actually less than the standard drink, so in order to curb your risk of breast cancer, you won’t even be able to finish that glass of wine.
Exercise Decreases Breast Cancer Risk
So what’s a girl who loves red wine and the occasional gluten-free beer to do?
There’s some good news here, don’t worry.
Researchers in the study also found that exercise actually reduced breast cancer risk. In fact, there’s a 17% decreased risk among premenopausal women and 10% for postmenopausal. This type of exercise could include “vigorous, occupational, recreational, walking, and household activity” according to the report.
You can help boost your immune system, stop oxidative stress, and reduce your risk for cancer by exercising. Whether you choose to dance, swim, run, or just go walking with a friend, you can still enjoy that small glass of alcohol and not feel worried about an increased risk for breast cancer.
How Much You Can Safely Drink
Now that we’ve established that alcohol increases your risk of breast cancer but that exercise helps decrease it, let’s talk about how much you can safely drink.
If you’re a daily drinker, aim to have no more than 10 grams a day. This means less than the traditional 5-ounce glass of wine or 12-ounce beer. This sounds like an awkward amount of alcohol, so here’s how you can do it—just don’t drink every day.
By limiting your intake of alcohol, you can enjoy alcohol more when you actually do have it. Choose to not drink every day and only drink a few nights a week or even better yet, a few times a month. The less you drink, the more you can help decrease your risk of breast cancer when it comes to alcohol.
For exercise, many institutions recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week (this amounts to 2 ½ hours weekly) or 1 hour and 15 minutes of intense exercise per week. As long as you’re exercising regularly, you can help decrease your chances of getting breast cancer and help your body be healthier!
Other Helpful Practices to Minimize Your Risk for Breast Cancer
Since over 316,120 women in the United States alone will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year (40,610 of which will die), it’s understandable that you’d want to know more about minimizing your risk.
Women get diagnosed with breast cancer more than any other cancer. Although men can also get breast cancer, they account for only about 1% of cases each year.
Here are other practices you can do to help prevent breast cancer:
Although there are some unavoidable risk factors for breast cancer such as age and gender, there are many avoidable ones that you can control to help decrease your risk.
Many experts agree that yearly mammograms aren’t necessary and can actually expose breast tissue to radiation which increases breast cancer risk. With that being said, you should still get exams with your healthcare provider to ensure you’re healthy and to talk about your risk for breast cancer.
This new research shows just how much our diet affects our chances of getting cancer. Even a small drink every day can increase your breast cancer risk. Reduce your chances by putting down the wine and hitting the treadmill after work—I promise it’ll be more stress relieving and have better benefits for your body, no matter how tasty that wine seems at the time!