According to researchers women who drink more two bottles of wine over the weekend, more than double their risk of developing breast cancer.
The study reported in the European Journal of Public Health showed that in a group of 17,647 nurses who drank 22-27 drinks a week compared with those who drank one to three drinks, the risk of breast cancer was two times more. The odds increased when the drinks were consumed over a short time. The study, which began in 1993, showed around 457 cases of breast cancer by 2001.
In detail, the doctors found that binge drinking four or five drinks on a day in the week increased the breast cancer risk by 55 per cent, compared with having one drink. Downing 16 to 21 drinks during a weekend -about two bottles of wine upwards, was seen to launch the risk by 150 per cent.
Accordingly, alcohol is believed to be the biggest factor behind surging rates of breast cancer in the UK, with 44,000 cases diagnosed each year and 13,000 deaths.
In this study, binge-drinking was classified as four or more units of alcohol in a session. UK health guidelines recommend no more than two or three units for women. A unit of alcohol is a half pint of lager, a small glass of wine or a pub measure of spirits.
According to official UK figures, more than one in five young women is a binge drinker. Figures reveal that 22 per cent of women aged 16 to 24 have drunk heavily on at least one day during the week.
Says lead researcher Dr Lina Mirch: "The impact of alcohol consumption in weekdays or weekends has not been addressed in previous studies of risk of breast cancer.
To minimize the risk of breast cancer our data imply that women should not do any binge drinking or drink larger amounts of alcohol."
According to Mirch, it is possible that weekend binge drinkers drink more on each drinking occasion than weekday bingers - this would explain the higher risk associated with weekend bingeing.
So how is the link between drinking and breast cancer explained? The researchers suggest that it may be due to rising levels of the sex hormone estrogen in the body. caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
Says Mirch: "The detrimental effect of binge drinking suggests a biological different effect of alcohol or its metabolites, when high serum concentrations of alcohol might be related to peaking levels of estrogens.
"This could lead to an enhancement of the harmful effects of alcohol on breast cancer."