Just One Drink of Alcohol a Day
Raises Your Risk for Breast Cancer
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March 7, 2018

By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist



Last week, I learned that another friend, a fit, vibrant 42
year-old mother of two, has been diagnosed with breast
cancer and the only question that rang in my head was  
simple --- why?
The mystery of why some women develop
breast cancer and others do not has evaded complete
solution. But we are getting closer. Now we know that diet
and body weight as well as physical activity levels play
important roles in dealing out the unlucky cards that tell who
gets breast cancer.

Alcohol consumption tilts the scales against you.

In fact,  in terms of the impact on your breast cancer risk,
alcohol is emerging as one of the most important lifestyle
risks for breast cancer.  Just one drink of alcohol per day
raises your risk for breast cancer. Why is this? Why does
alcohol raise your risk for breast cancer so significantly?


Acetaldehyde, the Cancerous Poison That Alcohol Produces
in Your Body

Acetaldehyde is a powerful carcinogenic. So powerful, in
fact, that acetaldehyde is one of the best known and most
deadly carcinogens in the world.

Drinking alcohol, any amount of alcohol, requires your body
to break it down so that it can be eliminated.

Your body breaks down alcohol in one of two ways. In the
first pathway, alcohol encounters two enzymes (alcohol
dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase). These two
enzymes crack open the alcohol molecule.  After the molecule
is broken open, it can be excreted from your body.

Unfortunately, cracking open the alcohol molecule creates
acetaldehyde as a byproduct.

The more alcohol you drink, the more acetaldehyde builds up
in your body. Then, in a second step, acetaldehyde is further
metabolized down to another, less active byproduct called
acetate (1), which then is broken down into water and
carbon dioxide for easy elimination (2).

Alcohol Blocks Beneficial Action of Folate, an Essential B
Vitamin


Folate, which is vitamin B9, is not stored in your body, so
you have to consume what you need every day. Called folic
acid when it is found in supplements and folate when it is
found in foods, this essential vitamin plays a role in making
DNA and RNA. Together with Vitamin B12, folate also helps
to produce red blood cells, and prevent anemia.

Scientists have learned that folate is especially important
during the phases of your life when cells are growing fast,
such as during pregnancy when of course your body is
building a new human, childhood and adolescence.

The connection between alcohol and folate emerged as it
became clear that binge alcoholics often suffer from folate
deficiency. The University of California, Davis reviewed 30
years of studies on the connection between alcoholism and
folate deficiency.

The study, completed in 2002, found that scientists can
create folate deficiency whenever they wish simply by giving
lab animals alcohol over a period of a year or more.  This
was true in the case of monkeys fed Monkeys fed alcohol for
2 years, micropigs fed alcohol for one  year. It is also true of
humans.


Folate Deficiency Is Strongly Linked with Breast Cancer

There have been many studies showing that folate deficiency
is linked with breast cancer. In 2012, scientists from Spain's
Universitat de les Illes Balears performed a comprehensive
review of all such studies completed up then, and found that,
yes, folate defici
ency is a strong risk factor for breast cancer.



But More Folate Is Not Necessarily Better





























However, eating more folate than your body needs will not
afford you greater protection against breast cancer. It may
in fact increase your risk for breast cancer, a study has
suggested.

If you are not already deficient in folate, taking more folate  
increase
s your breast cancer risk.  Taking more than 400 mg
of folate daily increases breast cancer risk by 20%,
according to a 2006 study Led by Dr. Y.I. Kim of the
University of Toronto.

The type of folate matters. Folic acid supplementation, as
opposed to folate in food, increased breast cancer risk by
32%.




The Type of Alcohol Does Not Matter

Since all alcohol is broken down the same way in your body,
all forms of ethanol-containing alcohol pose a risk.  


Avoid hard liquor as well as wine, wine coolers and other so-
called "light" alcoholic drinks, if you are concerned about
your risk for developing breast cancer.














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Drinking even one glass of alcohol a day
raises your risk for breast cancer
l.