Breast Cancer: Could Happy Hour Drinks Be The Problem?
Editor's Note: Ah, that glass of wine at the end of the day. The refreshing mojito out on the porch. The appletinis we sip when we're out with girlfriends after a long day -- could they be increasing our risk of breast cancer? In this post, Elaine Schattner, M.D. offers her take. -- AVF
The newly-published correlative data, in the November 2 issue of JAMA, are clear. The findings, an offshoot of the Nurses’ Health Study, involve over 105,000 women monitored from 1980 until 2008. The bottom line is that even low levels of alcohol consumption, the equivalent to three to six drinks per week, are associated with a statistically significant but slight increase in breast cancer incidence. And the more a woman drinks, the more likely she is to develop breast cancer.
Photo by David Leong.
All things considered, it might be true that alcohol is a breast carcinogen, as Dr. Steven Narod calls it in the editorial accompanying the research study. Still, there’s no proof of cause and effect: Other factors, like consuming lots of food or perhaps some yet-unidentified particularity about living in communities with abundant food and alcohol, are potential co-variables in this story. But what if it is true?
How I see it is this: Everything’s best in moderation, including enjoyment of one’s life. You work, you rest, you have some fun. This evidence is not like the strong data linking cigarettes to smoking that officials sat on for a few decades under the influence of the tobacco industry. This is a plausible, mild, and at this point well-documented correlation.