Current Breast Cancer Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 208–221 | Cite as

Alcohol Intake and Breast Cancer Risk: Weighing the Overall Evidence

  • Jasmine A. McDonald
  • Abhishek Goyal
  • Mary Beth TerryEmail author
Risk, Prevention, and Screening (DL Hershman, Section Editor)


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.


Alcohol Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) BRCA1 BRCA2 Breast cancer Mammographic density Risk Prevention Screening Review 


Conflict of Interest

Jasmine A. McDonald declares that she has no conflict of interest. Abhishek Goyal declares that he has no conflict of interest. Mary Beth Terry declares that she has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jasmine A. McDonald
    • 1
  • Abhishek Goyal
    • 1
  • Mary Beth Terry
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyMailman School of Public Health, Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer CenterColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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