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Breast Cancer Health Center

Moderate Drinking OK for Breast Cancer Survivors?

Women who consume alcohol in moderation have lower risk of heart disease death, researchers add
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Women who had three to six drinks a week -- considered moderate drinking -- before diagnosis had about a 15 percent lower risk of death from breast cancer than nondrinkers, she found.

What could explain the difference in alcohol's impact -- that it raises the risk of getting the disease but doesn't affect the overall survival? Alcohol intake is thought to raise the risk of getting breast cancer due to increases in estrogen production, Newcomb said. It could be the type of breast cancer most likely to be found among women who drink may simply be more responsive to therapies that reduce estrogen.

The new findings should be welcome news to women, said Dr. Laura Kruper, chief of the breast surgery service and co-director of the breast oncology program at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Duarte, Calif. She was not involved with the new study.

She said her patients who have gone through breast cancer treatment often ask her if it's OK to have a glass of wine. Kruper typically says to go ahead, if they enjoy the glass of wine and have no reasons not to drink.

The new study, she said, supports other research about alcohol having a heart-protective effect. The results seem to suggest that doctors can tell women, when it comes to moderate alcohol intake: "You don't have to radically change the way you live just because you have had breast cancer."

The study was funded by the NCI and Komen for the Cure.

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