Alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in a large study of African-American women, indicating that they, like white women, may benefit from limiting alcohol. These study results have been published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. The lead author is Melissa A. Troester, PhD, a professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina.
Alcohol is an established risk factor for breast cancer; however, most studies have been conducted in predominantly white populations. The researchers wanted to discern whether alcohol raises risk for African women by assessing participants in a large study that solely enrolled African-American women.
Troester and colleagues enrolled 22,338 women from the African American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk (AMBER) Consortium, which encompasses four large epidemiologic studies of breast cancer. The study showed that women who drank seven or more drinks per week showed an increased risk of almost all subtypes. Women who drank 14 or more alcoholic beverages per week were 33 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who consumed four or fewer drinks per week.
Overall, black women drink less alcohol than white women, with previous research suggesting a range of reasons from religious restrictions to health restrictions. The results of this study indicate that the same risk factors that have been documented in previous research apply to black women as well.
Women who are concerned about their risk of breast cancer could consider reducing levels of exposure. This study’s results are consistent with previous research indicating increased risk of breast cancer for the highest levels of alcohol consumption.