Breast Cancer Patients Should Limit Alcohol Consumption to Lower Recurrence

Alcohol consumption is associated with increased risk of breast cancer recurrence, especially in women who are postmenopausal or overweight, according to a study presented at the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Background information provided by the authors indicated that previous studies have shown that alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, but that there are limited studies to date about alcohol's role in patient prognosis and survival among those already diagnosed with breast cancer.

To examine the effects of alcohol on cancer recurrence and mortality, Marilyn Kwan, PhD, staff scientist in the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, California, and colleagues designed the Life After Cancer Epidemiology (LACE) study. The study involved 1,897 early-stage breast cancer survivors diagnosed with early-stage invasive breast cancer who revealed information about wine, beer, and liquor consumption via questionnaire. 

An eight-year follow up found that 349 breast cancer recurrences and 332 deaths. Increased risk of cancer recurrence was most predominant among those who consumed ≥ 2 glasses of wine per day. Furthermore, increased risk of recurrence appeared to be greater among participants who were postmenopausal and overweight or obese, and was present regardless of type of alcohol.

“Women previously diagnosed with breast cancer should consider limiting their consumption of alcohol to fewer than 3 drinks per week, especially women who are postmenopausal and overweight or obese,” Dr Kwan suggested based on the results of the study. “Considering the few studies that have addressed alcohol and its influence on breast cancer prognosis, and that the increased risk of recurrence was observed in only some subgroups, our results should be confirmed in other prospective studies. Yet, these results can help women make a more informed decision about lifestyle choices after a diagnosis of breast cancer.”

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