In contrast with popular opinion that a daily glass of wine is good for you, women who drink are far more at risk from breast cancer than those who do not touch a drop of alcohol.
Women who consume more than 5 g, or half a glass, per day heighten their chances of breast cancer by a massive 45-50 per cent, according to a recent American study. Author Steven Bowlin of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, says 25 per cent of breast cancers can be attributed to alcohol (Int J Epidemiol, 1997; 26: 915-23).
Women who gain large amounts of weight are also much more likely to suffer from breast cancer.
The US Nurses' Health Study found women who put on more than 20 kg and never used hormone replacement therapy (HRT) were twice as likely as slim women to develop breast cancer after menopause. The report suggests sticking to within 2 kg of ideal weight after the age of 18 (JAMA, 1997; 278: 1407-11).
Carrying extra weight is not all bad, however it can provide protection against osteoporosis. A medical centre study in Minneapolis found almost twice the incidents of hip fractures in women with low body weight (Am J Med, 1997; 103: 274-80).