High Alcohol Intake Increases Breast Cancer Risk Among African Americans

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Alcohol intake is a modifiable risk factor for breast cancer among African American women.
Alcohol intake is a modifiable risk factor for breast cancer among African American women.

African American women who drink 14 or more alcoholic beverages per week are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.1

Studies that link alcohol intake to an increased risk of breast cancer were previously conducted primarily among Caucasian populations. The purpose of this study was to determine if the same association exists among African American women.

The analysis included 22,338 women from the African American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk (AMBER) Consortium. The cohort included 5108 women with a primary diagnosis of invasive breast cancer of any subtype.

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The population consisted of 45% never drinkers and 20.8% past drinkers, and 11% of cases and controls reported drinking at least 4 alcoholic beverages per week.

Women who drank 14 or more alcoholic beverages had an increased risk for any type of invasive breast cancer (odds ratio [OR], 1.33; 95% CI, 1.07-1.64) in a multivariate model. Never drinkers were also more likely to develop any breast cancer compared with light drinkers (0-3 drinks per week; OR, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.02-1.24).

Moderate alcoholic intake of 7 beverages or fewer per week also trended toward an increased risk of estrogen receptor–positive (OR, 1.20; 95% CI, 0.97-1.47), progesterone receptor–positive (OR, 1.19; 95% CI, 0.95-1.50), HER2-positive (OR, 1.17; 95% CI, 0.77-1.77), and non–triple-negative (OR, 1.16; 95% CI, 0.98-1.37) disease.

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The risk of developing HER2-positive breast cancer was increased with 4 to 6 beverages per week compared with light alcohol intake (OR, 1.34; 95% CI, 0.87-2.09).

The authors concluded that alcohol intake is a modifiable risk factor for breast cancer among African American women.


  1. Williams LA, Olshan AF, Hong CC, et al. Alcohol intake and breast cancer risk in African American women from the AMBER consortium. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2017 May 1. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-16-0792 [Epub ahead of print]

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