- Alcohol consumption remains a consistent modifiable risk factor for breast cancer that will likely play a larger role in future cases.
- Historically, epidemiologic evidence has long supported a risk for breast cancer modestly increasing with alcohol consumption, approximately a 7%-10% risk increase per drink (10 g).
- Potential measurement error in epidemiologic evidence likely only underestimates risk, as participants more likely underreport than overreport consumption.
- Mechanism for alcohol as potentially oncogenic consists of acetaldehyde build-up when the body cannot process alcohol quickly enough; acetaldehyde can cause mistakes in DNA, chromosome rearrangements, and clumping of DNA.
- People with mistakes in the genetic code of aldehyde dehydrogenases, which convert acetaldehyde into acetate, have a higher risk for several cancers.
- New animal model experimental data show alcohol can damage stem cells.
- Previous evidence of the cardioprotective effects of moderate alcohol consumption is less reliable in light of newer evidence and of older studies’ errors in combining former and occasional drinkers with abstainers in the reference group.
- Changes in alcohol consumption after breast cancer diagnosis appear to have no effect on outcomes.
- Increasing rates of binge drinking among young women will likely contribute to an increase in breast cancer rates in the future.
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