Breast Cancer

Alcohol Increases Breast Cancer Risk in Black Women

It has long been known that heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in women. A number of studies point to this. Until now, however, those studies have looked at the drinking habits of primarily white women, with the assumption that the results were universal for all women.
A new study, from the University of North Carolina and published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, confirms that knocking back more than seven alcoholic beverages a week raises the risk of developing breast cancer for black women, too.
[Related: Race and Ethnicity Affect Breast Cancer Survival]
“Alcohol is an important modifiable exposure, whereas many other risk factors are not,” said Melissa A. Troester, study lead and director of the Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. “Women who are concerned about their risk of breast cancer could consider” drinking less if they’re currently raising a glass more than seven times a week.
Researchers on Troester’s team reviewed questionnaire responses about alcohol intake of more than 22,000 participants in the African-American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk Consortium. The found that overall, black women drink less than white women, but those who consume more than seven alcoholic beverages a week were at greater risk for almost all subtypes of breast cancer.
Those who drank 14 or more alcoholic beverages each week were 33 percent more likely to develop breast cancer.
But the study showed only a link between alcohol and breast cancer, not a cause-and-effect connection. Other important breast cancer risk factors for breast cancer include weight, reproductive history, birth control use and family history. And more studies are needed to determine how each of these factors affects each race, Troester said.
[Related: Know Your Family’s Medical History]
“Understanding the impact of these various risk factors could help narrow the disparity in breast cancer incidence and mortality,” she said.

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