Strategy 16, Role of Alcohol: Lifestyle Strategies to Combat and Prevent Breast Cancer

Daily breast cancer prevention strategies

October 16 – Strategy 16 –Limit Alcohol

There’s a lot of controversy about breast cancer and alcohol use.  Some studies say one glass of red wine per day is recommended for heart health, while more than 3 drinks per week increases breast cancer risk significantly. Conflicting evidence can be very confusing.  What seems to be accepted is that if you do drink, red wine is the best choice. Worst on the list is hard liquor.

I must admit I do enjoy a glass of red wine, but I have limited my alcohol use significantly since my diagnosis. Red wine, although listed as good for your heart, must be limited to 4 oz./day or you compromise any benefits and increase breast cancer risk.  Four ounces is not very much compared with the average serving.

Current studies suggest an increased breast cancer risk by as much as 40% if the 4 oz/day alcohol limit is exceeded. Recent guidelines also suggest no more than 3 drinks per week. Some studies even go so far as to say none is best, but this is perhaps not realistic.

The chemistry behind the problem is that alcohol is converted into acetaldehyde, which acts as a carcinogen in the body. Acetaldehyde boosts cancer risk by inflicting oxidative stress that damages DNA, prevents DNA repair, and triggers a pro-inflammatory reaction.

Damage can be offset by adding a few foods and plant-based compounds to one’s diet.  There is scientific evidence that adequate consumption of Vitamin B-9 (folate or folic acid) may eliminate or reduce risk of breast cancers associated with drinking alcohol. An exhaustive review of the research evidence has found that women who drink alcohol and have a high folate intake are not at increased risk of breast cancers compared to those who abstain from alcohol.  Foods rich in folate include citrus fruits, citrus juices, dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans, and peas. Most daily multiple-vitamin tablets also contain Vitamin B9.

So if you’re going to drink, always indulge in folate-rich foods or take a folic acid supplement beforehand.  As always, moderation is the key.

Check out a new video on the Cleveland Clinic Breast Cancer Vaccine:


To see all the tips for prevention, go to www.sisters4prevention.com

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