If you’ve had breast cancer, should you still have a drink with dinner? Maybe not. According to a new study, women who drink even modest amounts of alcohol increase their risk of breast cancer recurrence.
Does Drinking Alcohol Increase the Chance of Breast Cancer Recurrence?
Researchers looked at the drinking habits of 1,897 women who had been diagnosed with early breast cancer. After following them for over seven years, they found that breast cancer survivors who drank more than three or four alcoholic beverages a week had a greater risk of breast cancer recurrence – compared to those who were infrequent alcohol users. In this study, women who were obese or post-menopausal had a higher risk of breast cancer recurrence when they used alcohol than thinner women and women who were pre-menopausal.
Why Does Drinking Alcohol Increase the Chance of Breast Cancer Recurrence?
Not all studies show that drinking alcohol is harmful after a breast cancer diagnosis. Some research shows alcohol doesn’t increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence and doesn’t affect overall breast cancer mortality. On the other hand, alcohol alters the metabolism of estrogen, the female hormone that fuels the growth of some breast cancers, which could make a recurrence more likely. Drinking even one alcoholic drink per day is associated with a higher risk of developing a first breast cancer.
Alcohol Has Benefits for Women Too
Not surprisingly, more women are sipping cups of wine – due to the health benefits that alcohol, particularly red wine, has on the heart. The antioxidants and resveratrol in red wine help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of blood clots that can lead to a heart attack. This puts women who have had breast cancer in a dilemma. Should they or shouldn’t they drink wine in moderation?
Should a Woman Drink Alcohol After Breast Cancer: The Bottom Line?
No one knows for sure whether alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence, but alcohol does have an impact on estrogen metabolism. To be safe, it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol and get heart-healthy antioxidants from other sources such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains if you’ve had breast cancer. Why take the chance? Enjoy grape juice or green tea instead instead.
Medical News Today. “Alcohol Consumption After Breast Cancer Diagnosis May Increase Recurrence Risk”
Medscape.com website. “Alcohol May Increase Risk for Breast Cancer Recurrence”
Cornell University website. “Alcohol and the Risk of Breast Cancer”