Epidemiological studies have shown that women who regularly drink alcohol increase their risk of breast cancer by 50 percent. However, little is known about how alcohol affects breast cancer growth, initiation, and aggressiveness.
Last month, an exploratory and developmental grant from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) was awarded to two University of Massachusetts researchers, Pranoti Mandrekar, PhD, and JeanMarie Houghton, MD, PhD (Castano, 2014). This grant will allow Dr. Mandrekar and Dr. Houghton to investigate “the effect of alcohol consumption on the growth and aggressiveness of patient-derived breast cancers in a novel in vivo mouse model,” according to NIAAA Program Officer Philip Brooks, PhD (Castano, 2014).
Both researchers believe that women drinking more than two drinks day can have an inflammatory response in their breast tissue that can lead to cancer, worsen cancer that has already been diagnosed, and hinder treatment. The current alcohol consumption guidelines for women—no more than two drinks per day—are listed as being protective of cardiovascular health, but emerging research into breast cancer risks make these guidelines problematic. “The threshold for the alcohol consumption-breast cancer risk in women is much lower than it is for cardiovascular risk, but physicians are not talking with their patients about this,” stated Dr. Houghton (Catalano, 2014).
Catalano, E. (2014). Understanding how alcohol consumption impacts breast cancer risk. UMass Med Now. Retrieved from www.umassmed.edu/news/news-archives/2014/05/Understanding-how-alcohol-consumption-impacts-breast-cancer-risk/?utm_source=No.+38+Addiction%2FRecovery+eBulletin&utm_campaign=Apr.+1++eBulletin+Vol1+No+31RRFF+LA&utm_medium=email