Alcohol consumption has been associated with increased breast cancer risk in most studies that have examined its effects. However, relatively few studies have examined the influence of alcohol consumption on survival after a diagnosis of breast cancer and they have produced inconsistent results. In fact, the relationship of alcohol consumption to survival appears to be different than its role in breast cancer risk. For example, several studies have reported that alcohol increases the risk of ER+ breast cancer. However, alcohol does not appear to preferentially reduce survival of women with ER+ disease.

Latest research finds alcohol intake before diagnosis is associated with recurrence

The study referenced at the beginning of this news article was designed to investigate the association between pre-diagnostic alcohol consumption and breast cancer recurrence and death. The study included 1,052 women diagnosed with early breast cancer in a prospective cohort of 29,875 women. The women were followed for a median of six years after diagnosis.

Alcohol consumption before diagnosis was found to be associated with a modest but significant increase in breast cancer recurrence. The results held both when using baseline measures of alcohol intake and cumulative lifetime alcohol intake. Results for breast cancer-specific death were also suggestive of a higher risk for alcohol consumption but were not statistically significant. The authors conclude that, in addition to being a risk factor for the development of breast cancer, a high pre-diagnostic alcohol intake appears to have an unfavorable effect on the course of the disease. The findings were not associated with specific tumor types.

Please see our article on whether to drink red wine for more information.