Having just one drink a day increases the risk of breast cancer in women by 15 per cent, a major study has found.
The findings have led Harvard University researchers to recommend that those with a family history of cancer, particularly women, should consider reducing their intake below recommended levels.
The study, published by the BMJ, found a link between alcohol and cancer in men who had smoked at some point in their lives, but not in those who had never been a smoker.
However, even in women who had never smoked, the risk of alcohol-related cancers – mainly breast cancer – increased even after one alcoholic drink a day.
Researchers said that because smoking is a major risk factor for most alcohol-related cancers – apart from female breast cancer – the apparent influence of alcohol on cancer could be partly driven by its effect among smokers.