Research published in PLOS One, shows that alcohol consumption increases the chance of breast cancer in women. The research was led by cancer biologist Chin-Yo Lin from the University of Houston
According to the study, in 2016, more than 230,000 women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer: one of the most common causes of cancer deaths for women.
Several different causes contribute to the development of breast cancer, such as heredity, hormones, and behavioral factors.
- Alcohol use is a modifiable risk factor that increases the breast cancer risk.
- It is also associated with hormone-induced breast cancer.
The study set out to investigate the effects of alcohol use on the generation of cancer causing cells. The researchers studied alcohol’s effects on growth factors and estrogen signalling. The study was also concentrated on effects of alcohol on tamoxifen response and on the genes that contribute to causing breast cancer. Tamoxifen is a medication that is used for treatment of breast cancer.
- The results established that alcohol increases estrogen-induced cell proliferation.
- Alcohol promotes expression of a cancer-causing gene, called BRAF. Even in the absence of estrogen, it mimics and enhances estrogen’s effects, increasing the risk of breast cancer.
- Alcohol adversely affects the ability of tamoxifen to suppress cancer cells.
- Exposure to alcohol affects several cancer-causing mechanisms.
Cancer patients may want to take into consideration the potential detrimental effects alcohol consumption might have on treatments and modify their behavior and habits accordingly,” say the researchers.
Alcohol consumption is prevalent among women in the U.S. and is a risk factor for breast cancer. Our research shows alcohol enhances the actions of estrogen in driving the growth of breast cancer cells and diminishes the effects of the cancer drug tamoxifen on blocking estrogen by increasing the levels of a cancer-causing gene called BRAF.”