Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Closer Look: Alcohol And Breast Cancer Link

It's elementary. If you smoke, you are at greater risk for certain kinds of cancer. But how about this: you drink and you're at a greater risk of breast cancer. That's based on a bold new study making a lot of waves in the medical community. We wanted to give you a closer look at what this study actually means through the eyes of doctors.

The study looked at more than 184,000 post-menopausal women.

"That number of people being studied is immense and that really lends a lot of credibility," said KLTV 7 med-team Dr. Ed Dominguez.

And the results are jaw-dropping. Consume one or two drinks a day and you're looking at a 32% greater risk of developing breast cancer. Make it three or more drinks, and that risk shoots up to over 50%.

"When a post-menopausal woman drinks alcohol and if she has an enzyme, or the ability to metabolize that alcohol quickly, and people will metabolize that at different rates, the faster that woman will metabolize that the higher her risk of breast cancer," said Dominguez.

Some doctors said they're shocked by the study.

"All this is people sitting around in a room scratching their chins going 'how do we explain this?' I mean, you cannot say at this point this is proof positive," said Dr. Gary Gross from the Blood & Cancer Center of East Texas.

Gross said while the findings are interesting, more research is needed to confirm the link.

"I could count on one hand probably the women I've treated for breast cancer who I knew were alcoholics," said Gross. "The vast majority say they don't drink or they have an occasional social drink."

Regardless of the research, women are urged to know their risks. If you have a family history of breast cancer, doctors said it's a good idea to avoid alcohol completely. They also still said, one drink a day will reduce cholesterol and your risk of developing heart disease.

This study was led by a doctor from the U.S. National Cancer Center Institute. The findings are expected to be presented this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Association For Cancer Research.


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