Alcohol Consumption Directly Linked to Breast Cancer Risk
A professor and team of researchers at the University of Houston have found a direct between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk. They have identified a gene which causes cancer and is triggered by alcohol consumption.
Chin-Yo Lin, Assistant Professor:
“It has been shown that even a small or moderate amount of alcohol consumption can increase breast cancer risk. We wanted to find out what was happening to these cells on a molecular level. Our goal was to find the mechanism by which alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer.”
Lin and a former student, Nicholes Candelaria, described their discovery In a paper entitled “Alcohol Regulates Genes that Are Associated with Response to Endocrine Therapy and Attenuates the Actions of Tamoxifen in Breast Cancer Cells“. Also involved in the research, was Texas A&M University professor Rajesh Miranda. He is also an alcohol researcher and helped in the set-up of some experiments.
According to their research, this year over 230,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. It is also one of the most common causes of cancer-related death in women. They estimate that 5% of these cases can be credited to alcohol use. That’s over 11,000 women who develop breast cancer caused by drinking.
“There is not just a correlation between alcohol consumption and breast cancer, there is a direct link. Hopefully this draws attention to negative effects of alcohol consumption.”
When the hormone estrogen comes into contact with alcohol, the effects are enhanced. Estrogen is the main catalyst for breast cancer cell division.
The cancer gene in question is known as BRAF. It is a gene, that when functioning normally, controls cell growth. However, when it is mutated and abnormally activated, it acts similar to estrogen. It becomes a driving force for cancer, and alcohol escalates this activation.
Additionally, alcohol mitigates the effects of a cancer drug – Tamoxifen – which is used to block estrogen activity.
According to BreastCancer.org, about 1 in 8 women in the U.S. women (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer sometime in her life. This year, over 40,000 women will die from breast cancer.
And of course, there are many health risks associated with alcohol consumption. And these findings imply not just correlation, but a direct link that is incredibly troubling.
Women should be aware of this risk, especially those with a family history or possible predisposition to breast cancer. But generally, every woman should consider the link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk, and moderate their drinking habits accordingly.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A. Psychology
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