To drink or not to drink, that is the question? If you're a woman and thinking about it from a health perspective, that decision may come down to a number of factors, including whether or not you are concerned about heart disease or breast cancer.
A new study has found that consuming as little as one alcoholic drink a day may raise a woman's risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 4 percent. That may not seem like much of an increase, but when you think about the number of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer — roughly 300,000 each year — that 4 percent can certainly add up.
For the study, European researchers looked at data from more than 100 studies on the relationship between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. Researchers found that women who drank up to one drink per day raised their risk for developing breast cancer by 4 percent. Women who drank three or more drinks per day raised their risk by 40 to 50 percent.
"Women should not exceed one drink [per] day, and women at elevated risk for breast cancer should avoid alcohol or consume alcohol occasionally only," concluded the authors, led by Helmut K. Seitz of the University of Heidelberg in Heidelberg, Germany.
OK, so women shouldn't drink, right? Alas, nothing in life is ever that simple. Don't forget that the American Heart Association has found that one drink of alcohol per day may help to protect against heart disease.
"A large number of observational studies have consistently demonstrated a reduction in coronary heart disease with moderate alcohol consumption. Prohibiting alcohol consumption would deny a potentially sizable health benefit to people who would otherwise choose to drink," the American Heart Association says on its website.
So which is it? Should you drink one drink per day or forgo alcohol altogether? From a health perspective, it all boils down to whether or not you are more at risk for developing breast cancer or heart disease. At risk for both? You may need a drink just to figure that one out!