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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 June, 2003, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
Alcohol link to breast cancer
Alcohol
A study suggested the link between alcohol and breast cancer
Young women are being warned that binge drinking could give them an increased risk of breast cancer later in life.

Scotland's chief medical officer, Dr Mac Armstrong, fears that drink could be responsible for as many as 500 cases of the disease each year.

His annual report to the Scottish Executive will say that this would make it the most common cancer caused by alcohol.

The assessment of the nation's health will be submitted to First Minister Jack McConnell on Thursday.

Last year a study suggested that the risk of breast cancer was 1.46% higher amongst women who had an intake of more than four units per day.

It was claimed that the relative risk of breast cancer increased by more than 7.1% for each additional unit of alcohol consumed each day.

The message to young women is you don't have to stop drinking alcohol, just cut back
Mac Armstrong

In his report, which focuses specifically on women and children's health, Dr Armstrong will say that this link is "potentially one of the most important developments in the last year".

He will warn: "Although breast cancer is currently very rare in young women, the data now available suggests that an 18-year-old who makes a habit of binge drinking is building up a significant breast cancer risk in 20 to 30 years time.

"It is therefore crucial we step up our efforts against habitual binge drinking.

"The message to young women is you don't have to stop drinking alcohol, just cut back."

In recent studies a quarter of Scottish women have admitted that they binge drink.

Young women are most likely to exceed the recommended limit of 14 units per week.


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