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Alcohol and Survival

Posted 4/11/2013

Posted in

  This is excellent news for those of us who really enjoy a cocktail in the evening or a glass of wine with dinner. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know this is a recurring topic, and it is often to share another study that suggests even moderate alcohol intake may increase breast cancer risk or recurrence risk. This newest study from Journal of Clinical Oncology suggests the opposite: that moderate drinking may not impact whether or not one survives breast cancer and might even increase your odds.

  Whenever I write about this, it seems wise to put in the usual disclaimer about my certainly not suggesting that you start to drink, if you don't, or that you run out and buy a lot of wine or that you engage in any habits or behaviors that we both know are likely unwise. However, if, like me, you look forward to a glass of Cabernet or Merlot or whatever with you dinner, you will enjoy it even more tonight.

  Here is the summary from CNN:






April 9th, 2013





Alcohol may improve breast cancer survival






Although drinking alcohol is known to be a risk factor for developing breast cancer,


a new study suggests that alcohol


may not have any effect on whether you survive the disease. In fact, researchers found that being a moderate drinker

may actually improve your chances of survival.

"The results of the study showed there was no adverse relationship between drinking patterns before diagnosis and

breast cancer survival," said Polly Newcomb, director of the cancer prevention program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer

Research Center in Seattle and the lead author of the study.

"We actually found that relative to non-drinkers there were modestly improved survival rates for moderate alcohol intake."

The researchers followed close to 25,000 breast cancer patients for an average of 11 years, and found that women who

drank moderately - three to six drinks per week - before developing breast cancer were 15% less likely to die from the


More importantly, she says, drinking after diagnosis also didn't appear to impact survival.

"Whether you drink post diagnostically - again, moderately - doesn't appear to adversely impact your mortality," Newcomb


So does that mean women who have a history of breast cancer are free to drink up?

"The results of our study would suggest that moderate alcohol consumption after a diagnosis of breast cancer does not

adversely impact either breast cancer-specific or overall survival," she said.

Another benefit of moderate alcohol intake - a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease in women with breast cancer,

according to Newcomb. "Cardiovascular disease is importantly being recognized as a contributor to mortality among

breast cancer survivors."

The study found that women who drank those same three to six drinks per week before being diagnosed with breast

cancer were 25% less likely to develop heart disease.

The bottom line, says Newcomb? "This is good news for women because it might help direct some of their choices after

their diagnosis."




Dr. Sandra Swain, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology,


which published the study Monday in the


Journal of Clinical Oncology, agreed the findings are good news for breast cancer patients, but cautioned that more

research should be done to confirm them.

which published the study Monday in the


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