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Published April 11, 2013, 11:30 PM

Hot Topics: Some drinking tied to longer life post-breast cancer

NEW YORK – Women with breast cancer who had a few alcoholic drinks per week before their diagnosis were slightly less likely to die from their cancer, according to a study that followed newly-diagnosed patients for 11 years, on average.

By: Reuters, INFORUM

NEW YORK – Women with breast cancer who had a few alcoholic drinks per week before their diagnosis were slightly less likely to die from their cancer, according to a study that followed newly-diagnosed patients for 11 years, on average.

Moderate drinking before and after a breast cancer diagnosis was also tied to better heart health and fewer deaths from non-cancer causes, the study team found.

“This is a lifestyle choice,” said Dr. Pamela Goodwin from Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, who wrote a commentary published with the new study.

“With alcohol, what we’re saying is, if you are someone who would like to have the odd drink, it’s probably safe,” she told Reuters Health. “We’re not telling women to go out and start drinking.”

Researchers asked close to 23,000 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985 through 2006 about their drinking habits, exercise and use of hormones before their diagnosis.

About 5,000 of those women were surveyed again about their diet and lifestyle habits a few years later.

The study team found women who reported drinking three to six alcoholic drinks per week before getting cancer were 15 percent less likely to die of the disease over the 11 years post-diagnosis, on average, compared to nondrinkers.

However, there was no link between either occasional drinking or heavier drinking before diagnosis and survival from breast cancer, Polly Newcomb from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and her colleagues wrote in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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