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Moderate Alcohol Consumption Safe For Breast Cancer Survivors

Update Date: Apr 09, 2013 10:07 AM EDT
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Research has shown that drinking a glass of wine a day can have some health benefits. A glass of wine has also been reported to helping heart attack survivors live longer, and now, according to a new study, moderate alcohol consumption is safe for breast cancer survivors as well. The study, headed by Polly Newcomb from the cancer prevention program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA, found that drinking alcohol in moderation before or after a breast cancer diagnosis would not negatively affect a patient's survival rate.

The researchers evaluated the data from roughly 23,000 women who were asked to report their alcohol consumption levels before their breast cancer diagnoses. The researchers follow-up on 5,000 women after the span of roughly a decade and recorded their alcohol intake post-diagnoses. The study began in 1988 and the follow up study took place from 1998 to 2001. The researcher stated that during the time span of the study, 7,780 patients died with 3,500 deaths due to breast cancer.

The researchers found that women who drank moderately, which was considered to be three to six drinks per week, before their diagnoses had lower rates for certain diseases. This group of women had a 25 percent lower risk of dying from heart diseases and a 20 percent lower risk of dying from other health reasons. Drinkers had an overall 15 percent lower risk of dying from breast cancer in comparison to nondrinkers. However, the researchers did not report a causal relationship and stress that moderate alcohol consumption is not directly linked to survival rates.

Although moderate alcohol consumption cannot prevent the development of breast cancer or improve the survival rates, this study showed that moderate drinking is safe for breast cancer patients.

"You don't have to radically change the way you live just because you have had breast cancer," said Dr. Laura Kruper, who was not a part of the study. Kruper is the chief of breast surgery service and co-director of the breast oncology program at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, CA.

The study was published in the journal, Clinical Oncology. It was funded by the NCI and Komen for the Cure

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