When one may be one too many . . .

For decades, women have been warned that one alcoholic drink per day increases the risk of developing breast cancer.  A new study, published last month in JAMA, supports that statement and adds an additional warning:

One drink a day may be too much.  (A drink is 12 oz of regular beer, 8-9 oz of malt liquor, 5 oz of table wine, 1.5 oz of brandy or 80-proof spirits.)

A group of Harvard-affiliated researchers recorded the health of 106,000 women over a 28-year period.  Women who had three to six drinks per week had a 15% increase in breast cancer risk compared to women who never drank alcohol.

The risks were the same for wine, beer, and spirits.

But isn’t a drink a day good for the heart?  Yes, but.  And it’s a big “but.”  If you’re at low risk for breast cancer and at high risk for coronary artery disease, a drink a day could be beneficial.  If you’re at high risk for breast cancer, alcohol might do you more harm than good.

With so much attention given to the benefits and risks of moderate drinking, little is said about the effects of excess drinking.  According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 4 out of 10 people who drink alcohol are heavy drinkers or at risk for becoming one, and nearly 19,000,000 Americans have a problem with alcohol.

Harvard Medical School Harvard Women’s Health Watch, Carolyn Schatz, Editor

If you’re uncertain about or rethinking your drinking, check out

You’ll find more information and FAQs at the NIAAA website,


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