Indulging in three or more alcoholic drinks per day mayincrease a woman’s risk of breast cancer by up to 50 percent, according to astudy analysis published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism and reported byHealthDay News.  

Though the link between alcohol and breast cancer was firstestablished in the early 1980s, this updated research is the first to combthrough old and new studies to precisely estimate the increased risk alcoholconsumption can cause.  

For the study, researchers in Germany, France and Italylooked at more than 3,400 studies and found 113 that specifically examined theeffects of light drinking on breast cancer risk.  

After their analysis, researchers were able to attribute 2percent of breast cancer cases in Europe and North America to light drinkingalone and about 50,000 cases worldwide to heavy drinking.

Overall, researchersfound that just one alcoholic drink per day could increase a woman’s breastcancer risk by about 5 percent, three or more drinks by 50 percent.  

The research seems to confirm the expert advice for women tominimize drinking, said study leader Helmut Seitz, MD, PhD, professor ofmedicine, gastroenterology and alcohol research at the University of Heidelbergin Germany. 

“Women at an elevated risk for breast cancer should avoidalcohol or consume alcohol only occasionally,” the researchers wrote. Those atincreased risk include those with a family history of breast cancer. 

In the United States alone, one in eight women will developbreast cancer in her lifetime, experts estimate. But what exactly causes thisincrease? 

Alcohol is thought to increase estrogen levels, which inturn could increase the risk of breast cancer. Some studies have linked alcoholto cancers known as estrogen receptor positive, which require estrogen to grow. 

Doctors recommend that women who don’t drink should not startand that women who do drink should limit consumption to one drink per day.