Alcohol Consumption Can Impact Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

Talk of alcohol consumption usually creates visions of problems in the long term that can include liver disease and even brain damage. The latest information on the topic posted in Science Daily shows that moderate to heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages is directly associated with a 1.3-fold increased risk of breast cancer recurrence.

This research was conducted by Marilyn L. Kwan, Ph.D., staff scientist in the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif. In this study, Dr. Kwan found that women who are post-menopausal or overweight may be most susceptible to the effects of alcohol on recurrence.

Dr. Kwan suggested, "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."

While there are a number of studies that have been conducted on the increased risk alcohol can cause in the development of breast cancer, there is a limit to those studies that actually measure the impact for those already diagnosed.

Presented as the Life After Cancer Epidemiology (LACE) Study, this research includes a study of 1,897 early-stage breast cancer survivors diagnosed with early-stage invasive breast cancer between 1997 and 2000. Dr. Kwan and colleagues then performed follow ups on these patients for the next eight years.

"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," said Dr. Kwan.

Some women, however, may not be able to choose to drinking moderately - these are the women who find that once they have one drink, they can't stick to their promises to "only have one."  If they are concerned about recurrence of cancer, abstinence from alcohol will give them a better chance of not putting themselves at risk. Alcohol rehab treatment may become another critical part of their continued recovery from cancer.

Posted on December 17th, 2009
Posted in Women & Alcohol

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