Breast cancer risk increased by just one alcoholic drink a day, new research findings indicate

Drinking one glass of alcoholic beverage a day increases the risk of breast cancer, while vigorous exercise lowers the risk, a new major report by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) revealed.

The report covered an analysis of 119 studies, including data on 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer.

According to the report, one drink, equivalent to a small glass of wine or beer or about 10 grams of alcohol content, taken a day increases the risk of breast cancer by 5% in pre-menopausal women and 9% in post-menopausal women.

“A standard drink is 14 grams of alcohol,” the report said.

Running or fast bicycling decreases the risk of breast cancer in both pre- and post-menopausal women, the study revealed, confirming an earlier finding that “moderate exercise decreases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer,” which is the most common type of breast cancer.

The most active pre-menopausal women had a 17% lower risk, while the post-menopausal women had a 10% lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to the least active ones.

Lesser vigorous exercises, such as walking and gardening, were found to lower the risk at 13% when compared to the least active women.

Lead author of the report, Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, and a prevention expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said, “It can be confusing with single studies when the findings get swept back and forth.”

“With this comprehensive and up-to-date report the evidence is clear: Having a physically active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and limiting alcohol—these are all steps women can take to lower their risk,” McTiernan also said.

Another study analyzed what women say about not being able to sustain their exercise regimen and losing their motivation altogether.

“And then, months or a year later, they do the same thing again—creating a vicious cycle that fails to consider what might be leading to short-term motivation,” said Michelle Segar, director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center.

Segar and co-investigators considered “what women say makes them feel happy and successful, and how their expectations and beliefs about exercise foster or undermine those things,” in a study funded by the National Cancer Institute.

The study included the conduct of eight focus group discussions among women aged 22-49, participated in by white, black, and Hispanic women who were either “high active” or “low active.”

The study found that both active and inactive women experience the same motivation for feeling happy and successful in relation to their daily exercise regimen.

The motivations include “connecting with and helping others be happy and successful,” as well “being relaxed and free of pressures during their leisure time. Accomplishing goals of many sorts (from grocery shopping to career goals).”

“A new understanding of what really motivates women might make an enormous difference in their ability to successfully incorporate physical activity into their daily routine—and have fun doing it,” Segar said.

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