Light to moderate intake of alcohol in women increases risk of breast cancer: New study

A recent article published in The BMJ has reported findings on the relationship between light to moderate drinking and the risk of cancer.

The investigators used data from two ongoing prospective cohort studies- the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS).

Alcohol consumption (in grams per day) was calculated as the sum of the daily number of drinks multiplied by the average alcohol content per type of alcoholic beverage (12.8 g of alcohol per 12 oz serving (355 mL) of beer, 11.3 g per 12 oz of light beer, 11.0 g per 4 oz (118 mL) of wine, and 14.0 g per standard serving (44 mL) of liquor).

Information on cancers was obtained from patient records and pathological reports.

Analysis was adjusted for many confounders including diet.

Breast cancer was the leading alcohol related cancer in women, whereas colorectal cancer was the major alcohol associated cancer in men.

Among women, even an alcohol consumption of 5-14.9 g/day was associated with an increased risk of these cancers (relative risk 1.13 (95% confidence interval 1.06 to 1.20), primarily driven by breast cancer, and similar for never and ever smokers after controlling for obesity and other covariates.

By contrast, risk of alcohol related cancers increased among light and moderate male drinkers who ever smoked (Ptrend=0.006) but not among those who never smoked (Ptrend=0.18).

Consumption of at least 30 g/day of alcohol was more strongly associated with risk of cancer among ever than never smokers (Pinteraction=0.06 for women and 0.03 for men).

The association between alcohol and alcohol related cancers was also stronger for ages 65 and above and for those with a family history of colorectal cancer, although interactions were not significant.

No association between alcohol consumption and risk of other cancers was detected.

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