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Numerous studies have shown that alcohol is a risk factor for developing an initial breast cancer. Fewer studies have looked at whether alcohol is a factor in breast cancer recurrence. For women who have had breast cancer, limiting alcohol consumption may be the safest way to avoid the potential increased risk of recurrent disease. More studies are needed to better understand how alcohol influences breast cancer recurrence, but alcohol is thought to play a role in breast cancer risk by increasing estrogen metabolism and estrogen levels.
Several papers presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Conference (SABCC) in December 2010 linked alcohol with poor prognostic parameters of survivorship. We know for certain that alcohol is a carcinogen and increases the risk of breast cancer occurrence. We now also know on the basis of several new studies that the risk of recurrence among breast cancer survivors is 34% higher among those who consume more than three drinks a week as opposed to those who drink none. By a drink we mean 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of spirits. Additionally one Danish study showed that obesity, smoking, and alcohol together influence the development of a second primary breast cancer in the opposite breast in estrogen-positive cancer survivors.
Cancer risk is modulated by numerous factors including genetics, lifestyle, and environmental influences. The impact of alcohol on breast cancer recurrence rates is difficult to measure and has been addressed in a number of cohort studies including several hundred thousand patients. Analysis of the Life After Cancer Epidemiology (LACE) Study in 2010 demonstrated that drinking more than 6 grams of alcohol per day was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer recurrence and death from breast cancer. This study also highlights the fact that alcohol consumption decreases risk of death among women from heart disease (a cardioprotective effect). The risk of breast cancer recurrence with alcohol consumption seems to be greater in overweight and postmenopausal women. These findings would suggest that moderation is key, and individuals with a history of breast cancer who consume 3 to 4 drinks per week are at higher risk of recurrence.Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.