MONDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Although experts have long suspected alcohol to be a breast cancer risk factor, new research suggests it's most strongly linked to certain breast tumor types.
Researchers reporting in the Aug. 24 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that women who drank one alcoholic beverage a day were at higher risk for developing estrogen receptor- and progesterone receptor-positive breast cancers.
Alcohol consumption was also connected with an increased risk for noninvasive breast cancers, but not for invasive tumors.
Alcohol is probably not the only factor at play here, added Dr. Gretchen Kimmick, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center.
"It's not a surprising finding, [but] when they stratified by hormone replacement therapy use, the effect went away, so this probably has to do with quite a few other things, not just alcohol," she said.
For this study, researchers followed almost 88,000 postmenopausal American women participating in the Women's Health Initiative study from 1993 to 1998.
Women reported how much they drank but only at one point in time: They did not provide information on their history of alcohol consumption, nor was the information updated as the study continued.
Women who imbibed seven or more drinks a week had a higher risk of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, but only lobular carcinoma, not ductal carcinoma, which is the more common type. This was in comparison to teetotalers.
"It was a little bit surprising that for most common type of breast cancer, ductal breast cancer, we didn't find any association with alcohol," noted study lead author Dr. Christopher Li, a full member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. "It was really restricted to lobular cancer, where the magnitude of risk was much stronger than what we se
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