Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor am I a scientific expert. This website and its content are not meant to be a substitute for peer-reviewed journalism. My purpose in sharing this article is to raise awareness on the potential risks of alcohol consumption, and while I did my best to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, I am aware that these points can be debated. I welcome your feedback in the comments.
What if I told you that drinking one of these every day could increase your risk of breast cancer by 12 percent? I’m guessing you’d think twice about grabbing another glass. You might even stop drinking it altogether.
What if I told you that drink was alcohol? Would you still be so keen on giving it up?
When we think of bad habits that cause cancer, we think of smoking, eating poorly or spending too much time in the tanning booth. We criticize those who indulge in a daily cheeseburger, but would never do the same for those who partake in a glass of red wine at the end of a long day.
To be clear, I know several women who have breast cancer, I am not applying that they or any other person who has this horrible illness is at fault because they drink alcohol. Several factors contribute to breast cancer risk, including genetics, stress and just plain bad luck.
This article isn’t meant to shame anyone, least of all people with cancer, I am sharing this with the intent to educate and raise questions about “drinking culture,” and what that means for women’s health.
As a mom, I am well aware of the “mom’s drink” trope, and too have had a good laugh at its expense. We may even applaud them because of the “healthy” reputation wine has gained over the years.
The theory that alcohol can contribute to cancer has been proven through numerous studies. Observing nearly 80,00 women with breast cancer has shown that consuming just one drink per day could increase one’s risk for the disease by from 7 percent to as much as 12 percent.
Armed with this new information, you may want to think twice about grabbing that daily glass of wine. But, what if you aren’t a daily drinker? What if you just knock back a cocktail or two with friends after a grueling week? Even indulging on the weekends puts you at risk. In fact, women who consume just three drinks per week have a 15% greater risk for developing breast cancer than those who don’t drink at all.
I realize by writing this, I must come off as some uptight prude who just wants to ruin everyone’s fun. Before you start calling me Mrs. Buzz Killington, let me assure you I could and did drink with the best of them. In college, I would chug enough beers, shots and mixed drinks to leave me nauseated or passed out or both. As I got older, I would enjoy straight glasses of Cognac and more than a few heavy pours of my favorite wine. Alcohol wasn’t a daily occurrence, but it certainly was a big part of my life and present at every “fun” activity. I even wrote a poem detailing the journey from party life to mom life.
Around the time I was trying to conceive my first child, I became more aware of the dangers of alcohol. I began cutting back and saved the partying for big weekend getaways. The last memory I have of really drinking was the month before I found out I was pregnant. I was on a ski trip in Vermont, with my period, so I knew there was no risk to a potential fetus. So, I partied with my fellow cabin-mates and indulged in a variety of boozy goodness.
During my first pregnancy, I saw a doctor, who was pretty lax about the rules, and said a glass of wine once a month wasn’t so bad. As a wine lover, this was great news. Not wanting to “waste my glass,” I held off until the babymoon my husband and I took during my second trimester. We had reservations at a top restaurant in Boston, with an impressive wine list. I eagerly anticipated the delicious beverage coating my lips. When I finally got to taste it, I was disappointed, even disgusted. I could barely get a sip down. I was officially turned off by wine.
Perhaps it was my hormones working to keep dangerous items away from my baby? Or maybe it was my deep knowledge that I shouldn’t be drinking. Either way, I refrained from consuming alcohol throughout my pregnancy. After, I gave birth, I did indulge in an occasional drink, but never as many as I had pre-baby. Breastfeeding also turned me off from alcohol, and it just became less enjoyable. I was also a different person. I was no longer a 20-something party girl. I was a newly 30 -year-old mom, and getting drunk just wasn’t my thing anymore.
I still enjoy an occasional drink, such as a glass of wine on the rare night out, my husband and I manage to squeeze into our hectic lives, or when I get to have a night out with my girlfriends. Whereas in my younger years, I felt compelled to drink, nowadays I save it for those special moments. I savor the glass instead of chugging it in eager anticipation of the next one. As I do, I remind myself of the risk I take with each indulgence, and ask myself, is it worth it?
If you happen to be out with me or anyone else, who chooses to drink little to no alcohol, understand our doing so is often in the interest of protecting our own health, and not a reflection on how fun we can be.
I can say with confidence, I don’t need to be “drunk” to have a good time. Just ask anyone who’s seen my on a dance floor recently.