Alcohol consumption linked to boost in breast-cancer risk

CHICAGO (AP) — Women who drank two to five alcoholic drinks daily had a 41 percent greater risk of developing breast cancer than women who did not drink, a new analysis that combined several studies has found.
The study, which confirmed earlier findings, found that breast-cancer risk increased proportionately with increases in alcohol intake. Each daily drink was associated with about a 9 percent increase in risk of breast cancer, the researchers reported in Wednesday’s issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
The link existed whether the drink was beer, wine or hard liquor, said the researchers, led by Stephanie Smith-Warner, a research fellow in nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.
“Our study suggests that the link between alcohol and breast-cancer risk applies to most women,” Smith-Warner said in a statement. “Consequently, women should weigh the risks of alcohol consumption against other potential benefits.”
For instance, one to two drinks has been shown to protect against heart disease, but women can do other things to protect their heart and blood vessels, such as exercising, maintaining a desirable weight and taking aspirin, the researchers noted.
The investigators pooled data from six studies that included 200 breast-cancer cases from Canada, the Netherlands, the United States and Sweden. Follow-up periods for women in the studies varied from three to seven years, over which time the comparison in risks for drinkers v. non-drinkers were made.