Ask women what’s the most common cause of breast cancer and most will say heredity. The sad truth, however, is that heredity accounts for only about 5% of all cases of breast cancer while lifestyle choices are more often to blame. One often-overlooked contributor to the development of breast cancer is alcohol intake, including the wine we enjoy with dinner.

One large glass of wine (12% alcohol) often measures 250 milliliters (ml), or about 8.5 fluid ounces, and it is the equivalent of two or three units of alcohol. With every glass that’s enjoyed, the risk of breast cancer increases.

According to data supplied by the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) Breakthrough Breast Cancer project, three alcohol units a day raises the risk of breast cancer by 20%. A second large glass of wine increases the risk by about one-third and nine units, or about three large glasses of wine, increases the risk by as much as 50%.

It isn’t wine alone that should concern women. All alcoholic beverages increase breast cancer risks, making alcohol consumption one of the most manageable ways to decrease one’s likelihood of developing the disease.

Heredity can be a clear threat to breast health when the disease runs through a particular family line and age, too, increases the risk. Other factors, however, are more a reflection of lifestyle choices and they, like drinking alcoholic beverages, can be changed to minimize risk. Bearing children late in life or not bearing children at all contributes to the risk of developing breast cancer, as do foregoing breastfeeding and gaining excess weight.

The UK recommendation for women’s wine consumption is two or three units a day, or one large glass of wine. In addition to upping the chance of developing breast cancer, excessive alcohol intake increases the likelihood of developing other types of cancer, too, and is associated with stroke and heart disease.

Source: Telegraph UK