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Alcohol Consumption May Increase Breast Cancer Recurrence Risk

Moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages (at least three to four drinks per week, no matter the type of alcohol) is associated with a 30 percent increased risk of breast cancer recurrence, according to a new Kaiser Permanente study. Post-menopausal or overweight women may be most susceptible to the effects of alcohol on recurrence, according to the researchers.

Detailed results of this study were presented at the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium by Marilyn L. Kwan, Ph.D., staff scientist in the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif.

"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," Kwan said

While previous research has shown that consumption of alcohol is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, there have been limited studies about alcohol's role in patient prognosis and survival among those already diagnosed with breast cancer.

Kwan and her colleagues examined the effects of alcohol on cancer recurrence and mortality in the Life After Cancer Epidemiology Study, a prospective cohort study of 1,897 breast cancer survivors diagnosed with early-stage invasive breast cancer between 1997 and 2000. The researchers recruited participants from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Cancer Registry and compared breast cancer recurrence in women previously diagnosed with breast cancer who drank alcohol with a reference group of women previously diagnosed with breast cancer who did not drink.

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