There is enough evidence to conclude that alcohol probably does increase your risk of breast cancer. In a review of 38 studies conducted up until 1992, researchers concluded that having one, two or three drinks a day all increased the risk of breast can-cer.14 And the more alcohol a woman consumed, the higher her risk. Based on these findings, nutrition and cancer experts recommend that women do not drink alcohol. If consumed at all, alcoholic drinks should be limited to one a day or seven per week.
Alcohol may make breast cells more vulnerable to the effects of carcinogens, or it may enhance the liver’s processing of these substances. Alcohol may inhibit the ability of cells to repair faulty genes. Alcohol may also increase estrogen levels in the body.
If you need to lower your daily intake of alcohol, replace alcoholic beverages with sparkling mineral water, Clamato or tomato juice or soda with a splash of cranberry juice. Eliminate alcoholic beverages on evenings that you are not entertaining. Save your glass of wine or cocktail for social occasions.
A number of studies have determined that gaining weight after menopause is linked with a higher risk of breast cancer.15 Obesity may influence breast cancer risk by increasing circulating estrogen levels, since estrogen is produced in body fat cells. If you are overweight, or if you have gained weight since menopause, I strongly advise that you take steps to lose weight. Start by determining your body mass index (BMI) to get a sense of how your current weight is affecting your health—see chapter 2 to calculate your BMI and to find strategies and a meal plan to help get you started.