Women’s Healthcare Expert Marla Ahlgrimm on Cancer/Alcohol Connection

Marla AhlgrimmIn October 2015, the results of a collaboration between five major Spanish universities studying the relationship between alcohol intake and breast cancer were released. The study found that alcohol consumption greatly increases a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, reports Marla Ahlgrimm. Here, Ahlgrimm takes a look at the study results and stresses the importance of limiting alcoholic beverage consumption.

Q: How many women took part in the study?

Marla Ahlgrimm: The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition included 334,850 women. These volunteers were followed over the course of 11 years and their alcohol consumption noted. The study was organized in an effort to confirm previous data, which indicated alcohol intake increases the risk of breast cancer in women.

Q: Did the study confirm previous evidence?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes, it did. Out of the participants, 11,576 were diagnosed with breast cancer. Research scientists discovered that the women who consumed higher volumes of alcohol were up to 5.6% more likely to develop breast cancer. Women drinking 15 g of alcohol or more per day had the greatest instances of both hormone receptive and non-hormone receptive tumors.

Q: How did time and duration of intake affect risks?

Marla Ahlgrimm: The study concluded that women who drink alcohol regularly, over a long period of time, and those who begin drinking prior to the birth of their first child were prone to breast cancer more so than alcohol-abstinent participants. The findings were substantially indicative of alcohol contributing to cancer.

Q: What are some tips to reduce alcohol-related breast cancer risks?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Abstaining from alcohol is, of course, the best piece of advice that could be offered. However, occasional drinkers may benefit from moderation and a healthy diet. Women with a normal BMI (between 18.5 and 24.9) who exercise regularly and limit their alcohol intake were found to have an 18% lower risk of developing breast cancer. Likewise, women who breastfed and those with a dominantly plant-based diet also saw reduced risks.

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