As Seen on TV: Drinking Alcohol and Cancer

A new study published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute points to a link between alcohol consumption and a greater risk of cancer in females.

Researchers say that even moderate alcohol consumption can significantly increase the chances a woman will get cancer. These findings come after years of doctors suggesting that a drink a day can be good for women's heart health. Find out the latest advice.

The study looked at more than 1 million middle-aged women and found that alcohol consumption may cause 13 percent of all breast, liver, rectal and esophageal cancers. Women who have just three to six drinks a week have a 2 percent greater risk of cancer; women who have seven to 14 drinks a week have a 5 percent increased risk of cancer; and for those who have 15 or more drinks a week, their risk of cancer jumps to 15 percent.

Two Drinks, Too Much?Play

"Women who are very worried about cancer may not want to drink anything," said Dr. Therese Bevers of the Anderson Cancer Center. "Women who like to drink may want to reduce the amount they drink."

The American Heart Association recommends that both women and men drink only in moderation. For women, that means no more than one alcoholic beverage per day. Since drinking can increase risks of high blood pressure, heart failure and breast cancer, they suggest that people who don't already drink do not begin drinking.

The American Cancer Society agrees that the more alcohol an individual consumes, the higher her risk of developing certain types of cancer. Experts there suggest reducing the amount of alcohol you drink -- for women, that's one drink per day. Check out their fact sheet on alcohol and cancer, where they outline what they know about this connection and the combined risks of using both alcohol and tobacco.

While a drink a day raises the risks of certain cancer, there is also scientific evidence that it can lower a woman's risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol levels and reducing the chances of blood clots. However, in light of today's study, experts say that women can improve heart health without alcohol. They recommend avoiding habits like smoking and turning to diet and exercise instead.