Breast cancer patients who raised a glass or two a week may even enjoy slightly longer lives than those who didn’t drink.
While alcohol can benefit the heart, bone and even brain, studies showed that moderate drinking — three to six glasses a week — could boost the risk of breast cancer by 15% compared to those who abstained. But a new study found that drinking before and after a breast cancer diagnosis did not hurt women’s survival from the cancer; in some cases, alcohol even seemed to improve survival.
“Our findings should be reassuring to women who have breast cancer because their past experience consuming alcohol will not impact their survival after diagnosis,” said study author Polly Newcomb, head of the Cancer Prevention Program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “This study also provides additional support for the beneficial effect of moderate alcohol consumption with respect to cardiovascular disease.”
The researchers followed nearly 23,000 women who participated in a study of risk factors for breast cancer for about 11 years. They found that the type of alcohol women drank prior to their cancer diagnosis did not influence their likelihood of dying from their breast cancer. As previous studies showed, however, alcohol did provide survival benefits when it came to heart disease; women consuming three to six glasses of wine per week during the years before they developed cancer were 15% less likely to die of heart disease related conditions compared to women who didn’t drink. The benefit was strongest for wine, while beer, other spirits and heavier drinking did not translate into lower death rates from heart problems.
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