Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Half a glass of wine a day could increase risk of breast cancer returning

We know alcohol isn’t healthy for lots of reasons, and new research shows we may need to add another reason to that list. Alcohol is known to be a risk factor for breast cancer, which affects one in eight Australians and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia.

Now researchers have found that less than one standard drink of alcohol per day could lead to a relapse in breast cancer in survivors, women and men who have already been through the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

A fifth of Australians drink more than two standard drinks a day

breast cancer alcohol

Even small amounts of alcohol increase the risk of breast cancer

The research from Cancer Council Victoria shows that just around half a bottle of wine a week is associated with breast cancer returning. That’s concerning considering the 2012 Australian Healthy Survey found that a fifth of Australian adults consume more than two standard drinks daily.1

Dr Anna Bolton, head of strategy and support at Cancer Council Victoria, said, “The current public health advice for reducing alcohol risk is an upper limit of two standard drinks per day for healthy men and women but there is no reference to people who have previously been diagnosed with cancer.”

The new findings are based on a small number of studies but could be a powerful way for doctors to get the message across that a healthy lifestyle is important to prevent breast cancer in the first place and may stop it coming back.


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Health Survey: First Results, 2011-12.,