Team of researchers from the University of Mississippi found that drinking alcohol when you have breast cancer fueled the growth of tumours.
The link between alcohol and cancer risk has been established long time ago but the effects of drinking once cancer is present was not known. The researchers gave the mice the equivalent of two to four drinks a day which doubled the normal growth of a tumour in just four weeks time.
One group of female mice was given the human equivalent of two drinks a day for four weeks, while a control group was given no alcohol. They were then injected with breast cancer cells.
Within four weeks, the tumours in the alcohol-fed mice weighed twice the size of tumours in the control group. Alcohol caused cancer cells' blood vessels to grow which in turn fuelled the growth of the tumour. The study confirmed previous research that showed that alcohol consumption increased the expression of a protein known as VEGF. VEGF was found to fuel tumour growth by spurring the development of blood vessels in cancer cells that might otherwise die.
Researchers believe that the public needs to know of these results and that cancer patients shouldn’t be allowed to drink, not even moderately like they were until now.
More research is needed to see if the findings would be the same in adults and whether it could be applied to other cancers as well.