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Possible higher risk of recurrence in association with drinking seen for women with lower body mass index.

For women with breast cancer with higher body mass index (BMI), alcohol drinking is associated with a lower risk of overall mortality, according to a study published online Aug. 9 in Cancer.

Marilyn L. Kwan, Ph.D., from Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, and colleagues examined short‐term alcohol intake in relation to recurrence and mortality in 3,659 women who were diagnosed with stage I to IV breast cancer from 2003 to 2015. A food-frequency questionnaire was used to assess alcohol drinking in the past six months at cohort entry (mean, two months postdiagnosis) and six months later.

The researchers identified 524 recurrences and 834 deaths (369 breast cancer-specific and 314 cardiovascular disease-specific) over an average follow-up of 11.2 years. Drinkers were more likely younger, more educated, and current or past smokers compared with nondrinkers (36.9 percent). Overall, there was no association seen for alcohol consumption with recurrence or mortality. However, for women with a higher BMI (≥30 mg/m2), the risk of overall mortality was lower with increasing alcohol consumption for occasional drinking and regular drinking around the time of diagnosis and at six months later (hazard ratios, 0.71 and 0.77, respectively) in a dose-response manner. Higher risk of mortality was not seen for women with lower BMI (<30 kg/m2), but they were possibly at higher risk of recurrence, although the association was not significant.

“Further confirmation is warranted in other large prospective studies of breast cancer survivors with detailed exposure assessment and focus on body size,” the authors write.

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Abstract/Full Text