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Cancer Causes Control. 2000 Mar;11(3):239-47.

Alcohol consumption and risk of breast cancer: a cohort study.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Canada.



To study the association between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk.


A case-cohort analysis was undertaken within the cohort of 56,837 women who were enrolled in the Canadian National Breast Screening Study (NBSS) and who completed a self-administered dietary questionnaire. (The NBSS is a randomized controlled trial of screening for breast cancer in women aged 40-59 at recruitment.) The cohort was recruited between 1980 and 1985, and during follow-up to the end of 1993 a total of 1469 women in the dietary cohort were diagnosed with biopsy-confirmed incident breast cancer. For comparative purposes a subcohort consisting of a random sample of 5681 women was selected from the full dietary cohort. After exclusions for various reasons the analyses were based on 1336 cases and 5238 noncases.


When compared to nondrinkers the adjusted incidence rate ratios (95% confidence intervals) for those consuming > 0 and < or = 10 g of alcohol/day, > 10 and < or = 20 g/day, > 20 and < or = 30 g/day, > 30 and < or = 40 g/day, > 40 and < or = 50 g/day, and > 50 g/day were 1.01 (0.84-1.22), 1.16 (0.91-1.47), 1.27 (0.91-1.78), 0.77 (0.51-1.16), 1.00 (0.57-1.75), and 1.70 (0.97-2.98), respectively; the associated p value for the test for trend was 0.351. Similar findings were obtained when analyses were conducted separately in the screened and control arms of the NBSS, in premenopausal and postmenopausal women, for screen-detected and interval-detected breast cancer, and by levels of other breast cancer risk factors.


The results of this study suggest that alcohol consumption might be associated with increased risk of breast cancer at relatively high levels of intake.

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