By Staff Blogger
Women who have or have had breast cancer generally stay away from alcohol as it is known to increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer. For each additional drink per day, the risk increases by seven percent. However, a new study now shows that moderate alcohol consumption can actually increase a breast cancer patient’s survival.
The study was led by Polly Newcomb, Ph.D. She is a member of the Public Health Sciences Division and head of the Cancer Prevention Program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The researchers followed around 23,000 women who were breast cancer survivors. The study began in 1988. They took data from a follow-up survey that was given to approximately 5,000 cancer survivors as well. The survey asked about their alcohol consumption after they had been diagnosed with cancer.
In the study they found that moderate drinking did not have any adverse effects on the rate of breast cancer survival. In fact, they noted that relative to those who didn’t drink, their survival rates improved. These findings show that there can be some benefits from drinking moderately, which is considered three to six drinks per week.
Those survivors who chose to drink before their diagnosis were fifteen percent less likely to die. Those who drank before their diagnosis but not after were twenty-five percent less likely to die from cardiovascular diseases. Survivors who drank both before and after they were diagnosed were 39-50 percent less likely to die from heart conditions that are related to cancer.
Chemotherapy can increase the rate of death from a cardiovascular event in breast cancer survivors. The chemo and other treatments for the cancer can weaken the heart muscle. New cancer treatments that are forthcoming may help to reduce these risks.