Page last updated: January 11, 2013
Moderate alcohol consumption may improve breast cancer survival

Researchers from Cambridge University have suggested that a up to 2 units of alcohol  (16g) a day can help women with breast cancer improve their chances of survival.

Researchers looked at 13,525 women who had been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer and followed them for up to 15 years.

Those who drank seven units of alcohol a week cut the chance of dying from breast cancer in a decade from 20 to 18% and those who drank 14 units reduced the chance of dying to 16%.

Women with the more aggressive oestrogen-receptor negative breast cancers had a slightly stronger benefit while there was slightly weaker benefit among women with oestrogen-receptor positive breast cancers, which account for about three-quarters of cases.

The link between body mass index and survival was also examined by the research group, which found that fatter women had slightly poorer survival rates than those who were thinner.

Dr Paul Pharoah from the university’s department of public health and primary care said: “What our study says is that it is reasonable, if you are diagnosed with breast cancer, to enjoy the occasional drink of alcohol. You shouldn’t feel that you should deny yourself the enjoyment of moderate alcohol.”

Source: The findings of the study, which was carried out with the South Egypt Cancer Institute, were presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Liverpool.


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