Monday, October 01, 2007
Alcohol linked to breast cancer?
I've been with women at every stage of breast cancer - from the disbelief at the diagnosis... to sitting with a single mom in the office of a patient navigator amid a sea of insurance claims and bills... to struggling to connect the dots on being out of work, chemo and child care. And I have been with women in end-stage breast cancer who have that "look"- an almost otherworldly mix of resignation, wisdom and fear. All wonder - why me?
Provocative new science adds booze - with an exclamation point- to that list of "what could have gone wrong."
Kaiser Permanente researchers looked at data on more than 70,000 women, and found that if a woman drinks just one or two alcoholic drinks a day, she's increasing her risk of breast cancer by 1o percent. If that consumption increases to three or more drinks a day, the risk shoots up to 30 percent.
It's fair to say not a whole lot of women drink three or more drinks a day. But researchers say that 30 percent increase in the relative risk of breast cancer from heavy drinking might translate into approximately an extra 5 percent of all women developing breast cancer as a result of their drinking.
The American Cancer Society has been telling women for some time now alcohol increases your breast cancer risk. This study really zeroed in, on the drink type. Researchers found it doesn't matter what you're drinking - white wine, red wine, beer, bourbon or another hard liquor-- each can raise your breast cancer risk. That certainly throws a wrench into the idea that red wine can be good for you.
Research has shown red wine does have protective benefits for your heart - but if just a drink or two a day raises your breast cancer risk, should you drink it? Every woman needs to balance her own risk of heart disease and breast cancer, says the American Cancer Society, which recommends that women who choose to drink limit consumption to one drink a day. Of course, there are other lifestyle factors that can reduce your risk, including keeping your weight down and being physically active -- which can reduce your risk of both breast cancer and heart disease.
Women, will this relationship between alcohol and breast cancer influence what, or how much you drink? We'd love to hear from you.
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