Drinking as little as little 6g of alcohol a day — less than one standard drink — may increase the risk of breast cancer returning for survivors of the disease.
New research shows the equivalent of 60ml of wine a day, or about half a bottle a week, could be enough to increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
Cancer Council Victoria’s head of strategy and support Anna Boltong, who is the author of the study, said despite the need for more research to be done, the findings presented an opportunity to provide specific information to people following a cancer diagnosis and to improve public health messaging for cancer patients.
‘‘The current public health advice for reducing alcohol risk is an upper limit of two standard drinks per day for healthy men and women but there is no reference to people who have previously been diagnosed with cancer,’’ Dr Boltong said.
‘‘These results show that as little as 6g of alcohol per day — that’s just three tablespoons of wine — is associated with a modest increase in risk for women who have had breast cancer, particularly those who are post-menopausal.’’
One in eight Australian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and alcohol has been shown to increase the risk of a diagnosis.
Australian public health guidelines for reducing health risks from drinking alcohol stipulate an upper limit of two standard drinks (20g of alcohol) per day for healthy men and women to reduce their risk of alcohol-related disease and injury, but make no reference to individuals previously diagnosed with cancer.
Dr Boltong said the latest findings had the potential to change the way advice was given to cancer patients.
‘‘People who have survived cancer should be armed with all the facts and be supported to reduce their alcohol intake and improve their health.’’