Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Modest Alcohol Use Raises Breast Cancer Risk

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Modest Alcohol Use Raises Breast Cancer Risk

Article excerpt

FROM JAMA

Even low levels of alcohol consumption - as little as 3-6 glasses of wine per week - increase the risk of developing breast cancer, according to a report.

"Prior studies have consistently demonstrated a linear dose-response relationship between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk, with an increased risk mainly observed among women who consumed the equivalent of at least 1 alcoholic beverage daily, but power was limited at the lower levels of alcohol consumption to determine whether there was a lower threshold. Our data demonstrate that even consumption of alcohol as low as 5-9.9 g per day ... may be associated with a modest increase in risk," said Dr. Wendy Y. Chen of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and her associates.

They analyzed data from the Nurses' Health Study to assess the role of alcohol in breast cancer risk. The NHS involved female registered nurses who were aged 30-55 years at the study's inception in 1976.

The nurses were sent follow-up questionnaires every 2 years to update risk factor information and the development of disease. The study population was predominantly white (93.7% white, 2% black, 0.7% Asian, and 3.6% other or unknown ethnicity).

For this study, Dr. Chen and her colleagues analyzed data beginning in 1980, when alcohol intake was first assessed, and ending in 2008. The 74,854 subjects provided information on both their past and current drinking patterns.

A total of 7,690 cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in these subjects during the study period.

Compared with women who did not drink alcohol, those who drank even a small amount showed a modestly but significantly increased risk of breast cancer, with a relative risk of 1.15. The risk rose as alcohol consumption increased, so women who drank at least 30 g of alcohol daily (the equivalent of 2 drinks per day) had a relative risk of 1. …

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