Decoding the booze – breast cancer connection: So much for “Wine O’Clock.”

Maybe I should wait to crack this baby open.
Maybe I should wait to crack this baby open.

I’m a spotty reader of Real Simple mag – I buy maybe 4 a year, basically any time there’s a “Get Organized!” cover-line – but I got so much out of this October’s issue that I feel compelled to share it with you.

The first is a recipe for “Baked Spaghetti & Meatballs” that I made for dinner last night, which rocked.

(I’ll include a pic of my handiwork at the bottom of this blog post; I’m still so new a cook that I geek-out when I nail it in the kitchen.)

But even more important than the comprehensive, lavishly photographed ode to newfangled casseroles is the article on the dire state of female drinking in the States.

Ladies, I hate to break it to you, but we’re becoming a bunch of big ol’ lushes.

In a piece entitled “Rethinking Drinking,” the mag, via intel gleaned from Gallup Poll and the CDC, trots out a few eye-popping stats:

1. Two-thirds of U.S. women consume alcohol regularly (defined as having at least 1 drink w/in past week)

2. Almost 25% of American women drink heavily some of the time (defined as having 4 or more drinks at once, or 8+ drinks in a week)

3. “Binge” consumption (defined as downing 4 or more drinks on one outing) rose 18.9% between 2005 and 2012

Scary, right?

Especially when compared to our dude counterparts, whose binge numbers are not trending upward like ours. (Not that there wasn’t an increase among men; but it was 7.3 percent vs. our nearly 20…)

So what’s driving all this chick-boozing?

1. Stress: We have too much on our plates, and not enough time in which to do it. (Like I even needed to tell you that…)

2. Female-Centric Marketing: Apparently, we’re suckers for a Skinnygirl Margarita. (Um…now that I think of it, at a recent “Moms Night In” I hosted for the Wee Lass’s class, we did kinda blast thru several bottles of Cupcake prosecco…)

3. Social Acceptance: We’re all in this together, babe. You, me and the Cosmos…

While the Real Simple piece is excellent – and I highly recommend you read it – I want to shift gears now to the link between boozing and breast cancer.

Frankly, I’m a little alarmed about just how quickly our risk factor ratchets up with each weekly cocktail.

And I figure if I’m alarmed, you may be too.

According to current research – and I’m finding this everywhere, not just on the breastcancer.org website – women who have 3 drinks per week have a 15 percent (!) higher risk factor than teetotalers.

But here’s what’s even more frightening:

With each drink beyond 3, we’re tacking on additional 10 percent risk.

Even though I’m totally Mommy Barbie when it comes to math, I think even I can figure this out.

Let’s say you’re me, and you have next to no alcohol Monday thru Wednesday. And then come Thursday evening, when the weekend is FIRMLY in your sight-lines, Hubby is playing tennis and you and the tot-lette are on your own with takeout and the most recent ep of Ladies of London in your DVR queue…

SIDEBAR: Oh no! In fishing-out that “Ladies of London” link for you, I just “spoiler alerted” myself! Caroline Stanbury had to shutter the Gift Library??? Nooooo!

Back to the perils of boozing…

So while I’m watching my beloved Bravo TV brain-mush, I just might crack open a frosty Kona Big Wave Golden Ale. That’s Drink 1 of the week.

Then the next day, on Friday, I’ll have some type of cocktail at dinner, usually a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc if I can get my mitts on it. That’s Drink 2.

The following evening, if Hubby and I are on a date night, I’ll kick off with a glass of Champs, followed by red wine. That’s Drinks 3 and 4.

And to finish off the week, I’ll have a Sunday night something or other, whether we’re dining out or in. (Usually out, unless one of the tennis majors is on, and I’m hoping and praying Rafa can pull-out of his god-forsaken slump…) So that’s Drink 5.

That’s a typical drinking week for me. And by making that my norm, in having a mere 5 alcoholic bevvies per week, I’ve very, very easily increased my chances of breast cancer risk by 35 percent.

35. Percent. 

That freaks me out a little. And it should. Although I exercise a lot, and have a better-than-decent diet, I’m still – blithely, casually, “hey, let’s grab a drink!” – putting myself in harm’s way.

And it isn’t just breast cancer that can loom large for big boozers. It’s all cancers, according to this cheery, stat-filled link

Did I just ruin your weekend with this Debbie Downer blog post? It wasn’t my intention, my lovely Momoverettes.

I just want us all to be smart.

Smart and cancer-free.