Your Boobs on Booze: How Alcohol Affects Your Breast Health

Darlings, first the good news. You have a choice about how estrogen works for or against you in your body. The bad news is that the latest, best evidence shows that 3 or more servings of alcohol per week may increase your risk of breast cancer quite seriously. Three. Per week. Most women I know drink this in 1 to 2 nights. Read on from my friend and colleague, Dr. Waldman, about how booze affects your boobs.

By  Dr. Helayne Waldman, Ed.D, CNE, Author of The Whole Food Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors

It’s true.  Though your heart may beat more melodically thanks to a daily glass of red wine, your breasts will likely sing a different tune after a glass of brewsky.

Let’s face it:  boobs and alcohol don’t mix.  In fact, for some time now, the use of alcohol has been statistically linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.  And that risk goes up with every drink you take.  For example, those of us who imbibe two to five drinks a day have about 1 ½ times the risk of those who abstain.  And a study just out in March reports that even one drink a day raises risk slightly (4%) with risk rising in relationship to quantity and frequency.

The explanation for this may differ, depending on whom you ask.  We know for sure that alcohol increases circulating estrogen levels.  And, we know for sure that it’s taxing for your liver to process the stuff.  That’s because alcohol is broken down into a compound called acetaldehyde, a poison closely related to formaldehyde.  Given all the other toxins our bodies have to deal with on a daily basis, that just adds to our load.

If you feel you can’t live without your vino, beer or black Russian, here are some things to think about to make it a safer experience for you and your breasts:

  • Choose red wine over other alcoholic beverages as it contains healthful antioxidants known as polyphenols, which protect cells from oxidative stress and can help compensate for some of alcohol’s free radical damage.
  • Keep your liver happy by using detoxification strategies such as rebounding, massage and sauna.  Liver loving herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion root and artichoke leaf can be helpful too.
  • Do not drink and take drugs at the same time, especially avoiding acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol).  This is double trouble for your liver and in rare cases even occasional use of this dynamic duo (alcohol and acetaminophen) has actually caused acute liver failure.
  • Hydrate fully and devotedly with pure water and herbal teas to keep the bad stuff moving through and out.  8 glasses/cups a day is worth aiming for.
  • Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables (lightly steamed is best) to help metabolize your estrogen in a healthful way.

In a nutshell, think before you drink!

Check out more nutritional strategies for reducing your risk of breast cancer occurrence or recurrence in Helayne’s new book, THE WHOLE FOOD GUIDE TO BREAST CANCER RISK REDUCTION, available at  For consultation on breast health and nutritional issues, contact Helayne @

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Sara Gottfried MD About Sara Gottfried MD

Sara Gottfried, MD is the New York Times bestselling author of the new book, Younger: A Breakthrough Program to Reset Your Genes, Reverse Aging, and Turn Back the Clock 10 Years. Her previous New York Times bestsellers are The Hormone Cure and The Hormone Reset Diet. After graduating from Harvard Medical School and MIT, Dr. Gottfried completed her residency at the University of California at San Francisco. She is a board-certified gynecologist who teaches natural hormone balancing in her novel online programs so that women can lose weight, detoxify, and slow down aging. Dr. Gottfried lives in Berkeley, CA with her husband and two daughters.