The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.


Many studies show women who drink alcohol have an increased risk of breast cancer [21].

A pooled analysis of data from 53 studies found for each alcoholic drink consumed per day, the relative risk of breast cancer increased by about 7 percent [21].

Women who had 2-3 alcoholic drinks per day had a 20 percent higher risk of breast cancer compared to women who didn’t drink alcohol [21]. 

Drinking alcohol may be more strongly related to the risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers than the risk of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancers [22-23].

Learn about alcohol use in the teen years and breast cancer risk

Learn about alcohol and breast cancer survival.

Learn more about diet and breast cancer.

Alcohol, estrogen and breast cancer risk

Alcohol can change the way a woman’s body metabolizes estrogen (how estrogen works in the body). This can cause blood estrogen levels to rise.

Estrogen levels are higher in women who drink alcohol than in non-drinkers [19]. These higher estrogen levels may in turn, increase the risk of breast cancer [19].

Learn more about estrogen and breast cancer risk.  

For a summary of research studies on alcohol and breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.

Low to moderate alcohol use in healthy adults

No one should drink a lot of alcohol.

Drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol, however, may lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and death [24-25].

However, drinking more than 1 drink per day (for women) and more than 2 drinks per day (for men) has no health benefits and many serious health risks, including breast cancer [26].

Talk with your health care provider about the potential health benefits and risks of drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol.


Komen Perspective

Read our perspective on alcohol and breast cancer risk.*




1. Know your risk

2. Get screened

3. Know what is normal for you and see a health care provider if you notice any of these breast changes (see images):

  • Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
  • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
  • Change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
  • Pulling in of the nipple or other parts of the breast
  • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
  • New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away

4. Make healthy lifestyle choices

Download Komen’s Breast Self-Awareness Messages card for more information.

Updated 02/26/21


Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet

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