, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 208-221
Date: 19 May 2013

Alcohol Intake and Breast Cancer Risk: Weighing the Overall Evidence

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Abstract

Moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to an approximate 30 %–50 % increased risk in breast cancer. Case-control and cohort studies have consistently observed this modest increase. We highlight recent evidence from molecular epidemiologic studies and studies of intermediate markers like mammographic density that provide additional evidence that this association is real and not solely explained by factors/correlates of the exposure and outcome present in nonrandomized studies. We also review evidence from studies of higher risk women including BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. Given the incidence of heart disease is higher than breast cancer and modest alcohol consumption is associated with reduced risk of heart disease, we examine the latest evidence to evaluate if alcohol reduction should be targeted to women at high risk for breast cancer. We also review the most recent evidence on the effect of alcohol use on tumor recurrence and survival for those diagnosed with breast cancer.