Alcohol’s Connection with the Breast Cancer Gene

Breast cancer rates in the United States and Europe show links to alcohol consumption, in some cases. Although studies have been conducted about the dangers of binge drinking, over consumption or alcohol addiction in women, less is known about the connection between alcohol and breast cancer. Recently, an increased risk of cancer recurrence in women with early-stage breast cancer has been discovered. Now, a study provides a more direct link between alcohol and a cancer-causing gene in women.


Breast Cancer Genes

More than 230,000 women in the United States, according to a research team from the University of Texas, will develop breast cancer this year. Alcohol consumption can increase the risk for breast cancer even as 50% of women with breast cancer drink some alcohol. Some research has been done on estrogen signaling and gene regulatory networks involved in breast cancer patient outcomes. The effects of alcohol on tamoxifen response and genetics was also studied. Tamoxifen is a medication used to treat breast cancer which has spread to other parts of the body. Women, in general, may desire more information and insight to be better able to balance consumption of alcoholic beverages with potential health risks.


Alcohol and Estrogen

Current research being conducted appears to establish that alcohol increases estrogen-induced cell proliferation. In other words, alcohol promotes expression of the BRAF gene which also mimics and enhances estrogen’s effects, increasing the risk of breast cancer. Alcohol was found to weaken the ability of Tamoxifen to suppress cancer cell growth. According to the study, alcohol enhances estrogen’s ability to promote growth of breast cancer cells, thereby diminishing the effects of cancer drug Tamoxifen which increases the level of cancer-causing gene BRAF in the system.


Research and Findings

The suggestion put forth by research on alcohol, estrogen, and Tamoxifen suggests alcohol exposure affects several cancer-related pathways in the body. In essence, alcohol and cancer-related networks communicate in a way which might be detrimental to the host (woman). It is hoped the findings can be used in cancer prevention research. It is not just menopausal women who need be concerned; college-age women may also be affected by the findings as environments where binge or heavy drinking may be taking place .

Healthy behavioral choices and motivation to target chemoprevention strategies for a decrease in breast cancer incidents and deaths would be ideal for use of this current body of research.More research is needed to build on these conclusions but it demonstrates the need for additional follow up on these studies and the link between alcohol and breast cancer. There is hope to bring preventive strategies forward which can benefit women’s overall health and functioning now and in the future.


Hired Power provides families and individuals with resources and information regarding alcohol consumption and addiction. If you or a loved one need support, call us at 800-910-9299 to discover ways we can help you on the journey to recovery.