Well Being

Alcohol Tied to Breast Cancer Recurrence

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Breast cancer survivors who consume three or four alcoholic drinks per week might be increasing their risk of a recurrence.

New research presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium has shown that drinking fewer than three alcoholic drinks per week is not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer recurrence, but three or four drinks per week does increase risk.


Researchers said the increased risk of recurrence appeared to be greater among postmenopausal and overweight or obese study participants. While any type of alcohol consumed (wine, beer or liquor) increased risk, the research revealed that the increased risk of cancer recurrence was most predominant in women who had two or more glasses of wine per day.

“Women previously diagnosed with breast cancer should consider limiting their consumption of alcohol to less than three drinks per week, especially women who are postmenopausal and overweight or obese,” said Marilyn L. Kwan, Ph.D., staff scientist in the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California.

While previous studies have shown that drinking alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer, the new study is one of few to analyze how alcohol affects breast cancer survivors. Since so few studies have been done, researchers caution that additional studies are needed to help confirm these findings. However, the research does provide valuable info to help women who have had breast cancer make more informed lifestyle decisions.

An earlier breast cancer study this year by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that obesity represents a 50% increased risk of a second breast cancer while one alcoholic drink per day raises the risk to 90% and smoking raises the risk to 120%.

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