Drinking and hormones, alone and together, increase risk of breast cancer

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Postmenopausal women can reduce risk of breast cancer by modifying alcohol consumption

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 190,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women today. Using data from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital-based Nurses’ Health Study, researchers compared women’s use of postmenopausal hormones and their alcohol intake. That data showed that postmenopausal women who consumed approximately 1.5 drinks daily were at a 30 percent greater risk of breast cancer than those who had little to no intake of alcohol. By taking postmenopausal hormones for more than five years and having on average 1.5 drinks of alcohol per day, the risk of breast cancer was almost doubled. “Our research suggests that postmenopausal women can reduce their risk of breast cancer by modifying their alcohol consumption, especially when they are making important decisions about hormone replacement therapy,” said Wendy Chen of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “While independently, both of these factors are known to impact cancer risk, the combination also needs to be considered.”