Low Levels of Alcohol During Adulthood Ups Breast Cancer Risk

Drinking alcohol in early and late adult life independently associated with breast cancer risk

TUESDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Drinking low levels of alcohol during adult life is associated with a small but significant increase in breast cancer risk, according to a study published in the Nov. 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Wendy Y. Chen, M.D., M.P.H., from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues evaluated the association of breast cancer and drinking alcohol during adult life, including quantity, frequency, and age at consumption. A total of 105,986 women with early adult alcohol assessments, and eight updated alcohol assessments were followed-up from 1980 until 2008. The relative risks of developing invasive breast cancer were measured.

The investigators found that 7,690 of the women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during a follow-up of 2.4 million person-years. A statistically significant increased breast cancer risk was observed with increased alcohol consumption as low as 5.0 to 9.9 g per day, which is equivalent to three to six drinks per week (relative risk, 1.15; 333 cases/100,000 person-years). After controlling for cumulative alcohol intake, binge drinking but not frequency of drinking correlated with breast cancer risk. Drinking alcohol in early and late adult life correlated independently with breast cancer risk.

"Low levels of alcohol consumption were associated with a small increase in breast cancer risk, with the most consistent measure being cumulative alcohol intake throughout adult life," the authors write.

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