Alcohol and Recurrence Risk
Well, this report really makes me unhappy. Marilyn Kwan and associates from Kaiser Permanente in California presented a study suggesting that even a few (3) glasses of wine/beer/liquor a week increased recurrence risk, especially among post-menopausal women. Interestingly, there was not a difference between women who are ER positive and those who are ER negative. Here is a quote
Women who drank 3 or more alcoholic drinks per week were 34% more likely to have a recurrence and 51% more likely to die from beast cancer compared to women who didn't drink.
Post-menopausal women who drank alcohol had the largest increase in recurrence risk. Among moderate-to-heavy drinkers, recurrence risk was 51% higher in post-menopausal women and 24% higher in pre-menopausal women.
Women who drank less than 3 alcoholic beverages per week had the same recurrence risk as women who didn't drink. >The type of alcohol didn't seem to affect the amount of increase in recurrence risk among moderateto- heavy drinkers. The risk of dying from causes other than breast cancer wasn't affected by how much alcohol the women drank.
I read this report last evening, just before heading out to a special dinner in Paris (where my husband is attending a meeting, and I am having a glorious unscheduled time). You can be sure that it did not influence my evening which included a glass of champagne and a glass of marvelous red wine. However, I forced my husband, who is a medical oncologist, to find the full presentation (slides only) online and read them carefully. One important point that none of the news summaries mentioned is that post-menopausal women who exercise regularly and maintain a normal body weight/BMI did not share this increased risk. That was the one ray of good news that I saw.
Clearly, this is a single prospective cohort study with several possible flaws. However, it raises real concerns, and I am going to have to think about it. There is the obvious truth/cliche that life is short, anyway, and we all have to make choices and balance our decisions. Personally, I would not choose a slightly longer life if it meant that I had to eat , for example, nothing but wheat germ and endive (and I do like both those things). But I probably can give up my nightly glass of wine if, upon further reflection and nit-picking of the data, I believe it might make a difference.
Here is a link to read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091210125540.htm