The study, which followed 1,900 women treated for early-stage breast cancer, found that while the large majority did not suffer a recurrence over the next seven years, the risk was relatively greater among those who said they had at least three or four alcoholic drinks per week.
Compared with women who avoided alcohol, the drinkers overall were 35 percent more likely to have a recurrence and 51 percent more likely to die of breast cancer during the study period.
When the researchers divided the women into subgroups, they found that moderate drinking showed a stronger relationship with the risk of recurrence and breast cancer death among postmenopausal women (51 percent increased risk), compared with younger women.
And when the study patients were separated according to body weight, the link was stronger among overweight and obese women (60 percent increased risk), versus those with normal weights.
The findings, reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, add to a conflicting body of research into whether moderate drinking may shorten the lives of women with a history of breast cancer.
Researchers note that the results cannot be generalized to women treated for more advanced cancer since the study did not include such patients.
According to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer continues to be the most common cancer among Canadian women.
To learn more about breast cancer, including risk factors, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, visit the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
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