Alcohol: A Breast Cancer Risk Factor

At a Glance

Alcohol is causally related to breast cancer, in a dose-dependent manner.

Risk appears to be higher among heavy drinkers and binge drinkers, but even light drinkers have elevated risk compared to non-drinkers.

Few studies have explored whether these patterns hold across different racial and ethnic groups. However, results from one study suggest that the risk associated with drinking may be more elevated among Black women than White women.

Science Summary

Alcohol consumption increases risk for breast cancer, as demonstrated by a large body of research. The more you drink, the higher your risk, and even light drinking increases risk. Read More


Overarching Goal: Significantly expand public education on the link between breast cancer risk and alcohol consumption and expand support and incentives to reduce consumption of alcoholic beverages for girls and women. Read More


“A U.S. study of women under age 65 with private insurance or Medicaid, found that 12.3% of breast cancer cases among women aged 18-44 and 7.1% of breast cancer cases among women aged 45-64 could be attributed to alcohol consumption, and that $148.4 million in estimated medical costs are attributable to alcohol related breast cancers.

Another study estimated that 4.9% of breast cancers could be avoided if alcohol consumption were eliminated completely.”

Paths to Prevention: CA’s Breast Cancer Primary Prevention Plan  

How does alcohol increase the risk of cancer? Former BCPP Director of Science Sharima Rasanayagam, Ph.D., sheds light on the link between alcohol and breast cancer risk.

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