Government research has shown that eight out of ten women are unaware of the increased risk of breast cancer and alcohol consumption despite it being established years ago. A large glass of wine is equal to three units of alcohol at 12 % strength and two glasses raises the risk by more than a third. For those who drink more than nine units or three glasses a day the risk doubles compared to those who don’t drink.
The recommended limit is 250 ml or one large glass of wine and around four million women drink more than two to three units a day.
Dr Sarah Cant, Policy Manager at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said, "Drinking moderate or high levels of any type of alcoholic drink has many health consequences, including an increased chance of developing breast cancer.
"Although many factors might affect our risk of getting breast cancer, limiting how much we drink is one thing we can do to try to reduce that risk - it's never too late to change your drinking habits."
Doctors feel the increase in breast cancer is due to the increase in drinking among women. It is unclear how alcohol and breast cancer are linked, but it may work by raising levels of the sex hormone estrogen in the body. 44,000 British women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and it claims 13,000 lives.
Most women believe family history is the commonest cause of breast cancer where as old age, obesity, having children late in life or not at all, not breastfeeding and alcohol are more common causes.
Dawn Primarolo, Public Health Minister said, "It's shocking, even for me, to see the potential risks of drinking over recommended guidelines in black and white. One large glass of 12 per cent wine takes a woman to her recommended daily limit in just one drink for regular drinking. Knowing the potential health consequences enables women to make choices that can reduce their risk of developing breast cancer."