Virgin Drinks: No Alcohol, No Breast Cancer

For those of you enjoying your evening glass of wine or cocktail, you might want to trade it in for some sparkling water instead. Previous research established that alcohol consumption of just one drink per day (4 oz of wine, 1.5 oz of liquor, or a 12 oz beer) is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.  Since the association is hypothesized to happen through hormonal mechanisms, new research, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, confirms these previous findings and sheds new light on the subject by examining how alcohol appears to affect the risk of breast cancer by subtype.

Using data from the Women’s Health Initiative, which followed women from 40 different sites in the U.S. between 1993 and 1995, the researchers compared reported alcohol consumption and the development of breast cancer among study participants between the beginning of the study and September 2005. Of 87,724 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years, 2,549 of them developed invasive breast cancer.

The analysis showed a 7% increased risk of developing any type of invasive breast cancer for each drink consumed per day among current drinkers compared to those who never drank, and a 27% increase in risk if the women had 7 to 13.9 drinks per week. On closer analysis, however, the data indicated a 13% greater risk for developing invasive lobular carcinoma for each drink per day compared to not drinking at all, but no significant increased risk for developing invasive ductal carcinoma. Furthermore, the risk for lobular breast cancer increased by dramatically for women who consumed 14 or more drinks per week compared to those who never drank. Lobular carcinoma is a cancer located in the anatomy of the breast where milk is produced (the lobules), whereas ductal is in the part that carries milk from the lobule to the nipple (the ducts). Ductal carcinoma is the more common form of breast cancer in the U.S.

When the researchers dug deeper, they found the highest increased risk to be for lobular cancer that was hormone receptor-positive, a finding which is consistent with the hypothesis that alcohol indeed exerts its influence on breast cancer via hormonal mechanisms.  As the researchers point out, survival rates are higher for both types of tumors than for ductal or hormone receptor-negative ones. Since previous research had not reached such specific conclusions, this new information helps clarify the way in which alcohol puts us at risk.

Since alcohol consumption was assessed only at the beginning of the study, there is possibility of error. However, this study had several strengths.  First, the cohort was very large and varied.  Second, it is currently the largest single study examining alcohol and breast cancer subtype– as well as hormone receptor status of the tumors– in postmenopausal women.  Third, it is the first such study to look at this relationship over time.  For these reasons, the findings are important. If you are concerned about your risk for breast cancer, you might want to consider cutting back on or eliminating alcohol. Instead, try one of these non-alcoholic “spirits”:

  • Virgin Mary – Perfect for brunch, a vodka free bloody mary and full of vitamin C like the original.
  • Mock Mojito – Refreshing in the summer sun!
  • Sparkling Tea – Looks like champagne and tastes delicious. Try Golden Star White Jasmine, and you might be hooked.

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11 Comments

  • Alcohol also destroys your Liver, your ability to drive a car, and your personality. Alcohol is dangerous, Pot is not.

  • Who are the fools making these idiotic statements…….I wish the law would go back to the days when you had to have PROOF before you made released this type of research and if not you were liable for being sued or prison.

  • What happened to a glass of red wine a night is healthy for you for antioxidants???? If we listen to everything these overpaid people say, we’ll never eat or drink anything and the population will die by next week.

  • It never ends does it???? Wait awhile tho, OOPS!……might not really be true…sorry. Just like all the new meds available that have some side effects worst than the disease……….or possibly one that suddenly is taken off the market, cause guess what?? It might cause death!!!!!!! Geez! Keep the “studies” under wraps till there is ABSOLUTE proof!!!

  • This is a bunch of bull. Red wine has been shown to stop breast cancer…what a joke.
    This is the drug companies wanting people to rely on their billion dollar drugs!

    A filmmaker has been reversing diabetes WITHOUT medication in many countries but the drug companies do not promote the story
    just google SPIRIT HAPPY DIET

  • Ryvr, im really sorry to hear about your mother, but you should understand that there is a major difference between causation & correlation. These studies merely suggest that people who consume alcohol regularly are even more at risk than normal for developing cancer.

  • I think the interpretation of the data is faulty. “Since alcohol consumption was assessed only at the beginning of the study, there is possibility of error. ”

    The only way to make a valid conclusion about the effect of alcohol on breast cancer would be if alcohol consumption was assessed throughout the whole period these women were studied.

    This article is more like a soundbyte than a presentation of valid study data, and its conclusions conradict the conclusions of other breast cancer studies.

    I am a 12-year survivor of breast cancer, and rarely drank. There is also no history of breast cancer in my family, and I was only on birth control pills for 1 year. So, in reality, any female (or male for that matter) has the potential of getting breast cancer.

  • HEY, LADIES….

    Look at it this way….while you boozing it up and taking on the chance of breast cancer, you’ll not only feel GREAT, but red wine has been shown to be heart healthy.

    SKOL!

  • Red wine is healthy for your hear and if a woman drinks half a glass 30 minutes before breast feeding her baby for the evening, the baby is more likely to sleep through the night. My fiance’s mother did it with both of the boys and nothing is wrong with them.

  • Unless participant in the study were randomly placed in a drinking or non-drinking group for the duration of the study it could be very possible that those predisposed to drink may also have other lifestyles factor that lead to greater cancer risk. The problem with these look back studies is that they are in no way a controlled experiment, but simply an observation.

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