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

Breast Cancer Risk Factors: Alcohol

Women who drink alcohol have an increased risk of breast cancer [24].

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% [24].

Women who had 2-3 alcoholic drinks per day had a 20% higher risk of breast cancer than women who didn’t drink alcohol [24].

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

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.

Learn about other factors linked to the risk of 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 [22]. Higher estrogen levels are in turn, linked to an increased risk of breast cancer [22].

Learn more about estrogen and breast cancer risk.  

Low to moderate alcohol use in healthy adults

No one should drink a lot of alcohol.

Studies show drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol may be linked to a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and death [25-26].

However, drinking more than 1 drink per day (for women) and more than 2 drinks per day (for men) has no health benefits and is linked to many serious health risks, including the risk of breast cancer [27].

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

* Per NCCN Guidelines

3. Know what is normal for you

See a health care provider if you notice any of these breast changes:

  • 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

To see illustrations of these warning signs, please visit the Warning Signs of Breast Cancer page.

4. Make healthy lifestyle choices

Download our Breast Self-Awareness Messages resource for more information.

Learn about other factors linked to the risk of breast cancer.

Updated 04/23/24


Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet