Alcohol Consumption, Breast Cancer and Estrogen Ratios

All we seem to hear about on the news is that moderate alcohol consumption is good for the heart. I often wonder who sponsors these studies and how they manage to get reported so regularly. The flaw of all these studies is that they only look at the relationship between alcohol consumption and heart disease, disregarding other aspects of health.

A very large British study (Br J Cancer, 2002 Nov 18; 87 (11): 1195-6) that looked at the relationship between alcohol consumption and breast cancer reached a different conclusion. It found that for every alcoholic drink consumed on a daily basis the risk of breast cancer goes up by 6%. Although 6% may not sound like much, it is cumulative and may come on top of other risk factors. It should also be noted that this study only looked at breast cancer, but there is no reason to believe that other cancers might not behave similarly.

If you are concerned about your risk of breast cancer, there is a new simple and inexpensive urine test that looks at the ratio between two estrogens: 2 and 16 hydroxy estrogen.

While every woman and man has both of these estrogens, research has shown that an overabundance of the 16 in relation to the 2 hydroxy estrogen leads to an increased risk of breast cancer and other hormone sensitive cancers (possibly including prostate cancer in men). The reason for this increased risk is that the 16 estrogen is aggressive whereas the 2 has a protective action, and when they are properly balanced the risk of cancer is greatly reduced.

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