The researchers found that women who drink more than 14 drinks per week had a 24 percent increased risk of breast cancer. However, in this study, wine consumption was not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, though it wasn't associated with any benefit either.
"So many causes of cancer are unknown, but alcohol is a modifiable risk factor for breast cancer," said Newcomb, who suggested that if women choose to drink alcohol at all, they should limit their consumption to no more than one drink per day.
Oncologist Dr. Virginia Kaklamani, from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, agreed. "Drinking a small amount of alcohol is generally not harmful, but more than two drinks a day can become harmful," she said.
And, women who have other risk factors for breast cancer, such as a family history or obesity, should talk with their doctor about how alcohol might affect their risk profile.
To learn more about alcohol and its effect on breast cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: Polly Newcomb, Ph.D., program head, cancer prevention, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and senior scientist, Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Washington, Seattle; Virginia Kalkalmani, M.D., oncologist, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago; March 2009, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention
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