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Alcohol consumption after breast cancer diagnosis may increase recurrence risk

16.09.2010
Alcohol consumption following diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer may increase risk of recurrence of cancer but not total mortality risk

In the Life After Cancer Epidemiology (LACE) study, 1,897 participants diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer between 1997 and 2000 and recruited on average 2 years post-breast cancer diagnosis were evaluated for the association between alcohol intake and breast cancer recurrence and death.

The women, who were generally light drinkers, were followed for an average of 7.4 years. The study reported an increase in risk of breast cancer recurrence and breast cancer death, but no effect on total mortality, to be associated with consumption of 3 to 4 or more drinks per week when compared with women not drinking following their cancer diagnosis.

Previous research has been mixed on this topic. Almost all large studies have shown no increase in all-cause mortality for women who drink moderately following a diagnosis of breast cancer (as does this study). As for recurrence of breast cancer, most have shown no increase in risk, although one previous study of women with estrogen-receptor + tumors found an increased risk of a primary cancer developing in the contralateral breast to be associated with alcohol intake of more than 7 drinks per week.

Because of conflicting results among studies on this topic, further research will be needed to determine the extent to which alcohol following a diagnosis of breast cancer may relate to subsequent disease and death.

Reference:

Kwan ML, Kushi LH, Weltzien E, Tam EK, Castillo A, Sweeney C, Caan BJ. Alcohol Consumption and Breast Cancer Recurrence and Survival Among Women With Early-Stage Breast Cancer:The Life After Cancer Epidemiology Study. J Clin Oncol 2010;28 (published ahead of print, 10.1200/JCO.2010.29.2730)

Contributions to this critique by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research were from the following members:

Luc Djoussé, MD, DSc, Dept. of Medicine, Division of Aging, Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
R. Curtis Ellison, MD, Section of Preventive Medicine & Epidemiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
Harvey Finkel, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Boston University Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA
Lynn Gretkowski, MD, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Mountainview, CA, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

Yuqing Zhang, MD, DSc, Epidemiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

For the detailed critique of this paper by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research, go to www.alcoholforum4profs.org and click on Recent Reports.

The 34 specialists who are members of the Forum are happy to respond to questions from Health Editors regarding emerging research on alcohol and health and will offer an independent opinion in context with other research on the subject.

R. Curtis Ellison | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bu.edu
http://www.alcoholforum4profs.org

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