Drinking three or more alcohol beverages per week is associated with an increased risk of 1.3-fold for breast cancer recurrence among survivors.
The new Kaiser Permanente study concluded that women who are post menopausal or overweight might be the most susceptible to the effects of alcohol on recurrence. Drinking less than three drinks per week was not associated with an increased risk.
Marilyn L. Kwan, Ph.D. and staff scientist in the Research Division at Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif., presented the results of the study at the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Cancer Symposium held December 9-13, 2009.
Based on these findings, Dr. Kwan suggested women previously diagnosed with breast cancer should seriously consider limiting their consumption of alcohol to less than three drinks per week, especially women who are menopausal, overweight or obese.
Scientist have long known from previous research that alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, but there are limited studies to date about alcohol's role in patient prognosis and survival among those already diagnosed with breast cancer. That was one major reason Dr. Kwan and colleagues examined the effects of alcohol on cancer recurrence and mortality in the Life After Cancer Epidemiology (LACE) Study.
LACE is a prospective cohort study of 2,321 early-stage breast cancer survivors diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 1997-2000. The study's goal was to examine how modifiable behavioral risk factors affect quality of life and long-term survival. Researchers recruited participants from Kaiser Permanente's Northern California Cancer Registry.
In the observational study, participants recorded information on wine, beer and liquor consumption via questionnaire, and annual information on health outcomes verified through the patients' medical records.
After eight years of follow-up, Dr. Kwan and her colleagues found 349 breast cancer recurrences and 322 deaths. Among drinkers (50 percent of the study population), wine was the most popular alcohol choice (90 percent) followed by liquor (43 percent) and beer (36 percent).