By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
BOSTON, Mass. — Yet another study has revealed a link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer, this one confirming that even low levels of drinking can make a woman more likely to wind up with the disease.
The long-term study, which began in 1980 and analyzed the drinking habits of more than 100,000 women for 28 years, found a “modest but statistically significant increase in breast cancer risk” for those with moderate alcohol consumption regardless of when in life the drinks were consumed.
Published in the Nov. 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association by Dr. Wendy Chen of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the research revealed that a low level of alcohol consumption (equal to 3 to 6 glasses of wine per week) was associated with a 15 percent increased risk of breast cancer. Women who averaged two drinks per day increased their risks by 51 percent compared with those who did not drink at all.
“We are not surprised by this study. More and more research seems to be revealing the negative effects of alcohol abuse and even more moderate use,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “We hope women will be aware of this and not fooled by the alcohol industry’s pinkwashing.”
Coined by the group Breast Cancer Action, the word “pinkwashing” refers to “corporate campaigns and practices in which the sponsoring companies position themselves as leaders in the struggle to eradicate breast cancer while engaging in practices that may be contributing to the rising rates of the disease.”
According to Robert Pezzolesi, president of the Center for Alcohol Policy Solutions, the spirits industry is typically the worst offender in this arena, with some wineries urging customers to “open a bottle and support the cause,” during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and distilleries tinting drinks pink to help link them in consumers’ minds with the fight against the illness.
Breast Cancer Action’s “Think Before You Pink” campaign urges consumers to ask critical questions before buying anything that purports to support breast cancer research.
Meanwhile Pezzolesi said the health of women would be better served if the alcohol industry “engaged in less pink-pushing and more genuine corporate responsibility.”
“The reality is clear: alcohol use is a risk factor for breast cancer, even at levels deemed moderate for other health risks,” he wrote in an article for Upstreaming Alcohol Policy (www.AlcoholPolicy.org).
“We couldn’t agree more. It is time to hold the alcohol industry accountable,” said Dr. Creech. “And that won’t happen unless drinkers take these studies seriously and change their habits.”
Dr. Chen said the recent study shows what’s most important is the average intake of alcohol over the long term and that at any age, after drinking at any intensity, a woman can still lower her risk of breast cancer by decreasing consumption.
“It’s never too late,” Chen said, adding that women would want to “weigh the modest risks of light to moderate alcohol use on breast cancer development against the beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease to make the best personal choice regarding alcohol consumption.”
Researchers said more study is needed to determine the reason for the boost in breast cancer risk among drinkers. They hypothesize that it may be due to the elevation of certain hormones in a woman’s system after she drinks.
“This recent study on the link between breast cancer and alcohol substantiates what a number of other studies have shown us,” said Dr. Creech. “Whatever alleged benefits may be derived from drinking is far outweighed by the potential risk and actual cost. Just as discretion is the better part of valor, abstinence from alcohol is the better part of wisdom. Alcohol and wisdom – wise living – just don’t mix.”