Moderate alcohol consumption does not reduce breast cancer survival

Alcohol is now recognised as a significant risk factor for the development of breast cancer and the increased risk is directly proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed. The evidence for a link between alcohol consumption and survival following breast cancer however has to date been inconsistent.

A combined analysis (meta-analysis) of 29,239 cases in 11 previously published studies of alcohol consumption was published in early 2014, and has shown no evidence that moderate alcohol consumption either before or after breast cancer diagnosis causes a reduction in survival from breast cancer1. These results, based on a very large cases series of nearly 30,000 patients treated for breast cancer, led the authors to conclude that moderate alcohol consumption is unlikely to have a major adverse effect of breast cancer survival. Professor Gordon Wishart was one of the Cambridge-based authors of the study.

With so many changes in lifestyle for individual patients enforced by the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, this study should be reassuring to patients by confirming that moderate alcohol intake will not reduce their chance of survival.

1. Alaa AM, Schmidt MK, Bolla MK et al. Alcohol consumption and survival after a breast cancer diagnosis: a literature-based meta-analysis and collaborative analysis of data for 29, 239 cases. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014; 23(6): 934-45.