Alcohol increases breast cancer recurrence risks after early diagnosis

November 1, 2010

Among women with a previous diagnosis of early state breast cancer, just 3 to 4 alcholic drinks per week could increase their risk for disease recurrence and death, especially if they are postmenopausal, overweight or obese.

Among women with a previous diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer, just 3 to 4 alcoholic drinks per week could increase their risks for disease recurrence and death, especially if they are postmenopausal, overweight, or obese.

Researchers administered a survey on alcohol use to 1,897 early-stage breast cancer survivors diagnosed during 1997 to 2000 who participated in the Life After Cancer Epidemiology study. The researchers then followed the participants for an average of about 7 years. Compared with no drinking, the authors of the study determined that consuming 6 g per day or more of alcohol was associated with an increased risk for breast cancer recurrence (HR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.00-1.83) and death because of breast cancer (HR, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.00-2.29). Recurrence risk was higher for postmenopausal women (HR, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.05-2.19) and women who were overweight or obese (HR, 1.60; 95% CI, 1.08-2.38).

However, alcohol consumption was not associated with all-cause death and was possibly associated with a decreased risk for non-breast cancer death, alluding to its cardioprotective effects.