(HealthDay News) – Moderate alcohol consumption before diagnosis of breast cancer is associated with modest improvement in disease-specific survival, although overall consumption before and after diagnosis are not linked to disease-specific survival, according to a study published online April 8 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Polly A Newcomb, PhD, from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues examined the correlation between alcohol consumption and breast cancer survival using data from 22,890 women with incident invasive breast cancer, diagnosed from 1985–2006 at ages 20–79 years. Pre-diagnostic intake of alcohol was recorded for all women, while post-diagnostic intake was reported for 4,881 women.

During a median follow-up of 11.3 years from diagnosis, the researchers identified 7,780 deaths, including 3,484 deaths from breast cancer. Moderate alcohol consumption before diagnosis was linked to significantly improved disease-specific survival (hazard ratio for 3–6 drinks per week vs. nondrinkers, 0.85). There was no correlation between alcohol consumption after diagnosis with disease-specific survival. No variation was seen by type of alcoholic beverage. Compared with nondrinkers, women who consumed moderate levels of alcohol before or after diagnosis experienced improved cardiovascular and overall survival.

“Overall alcohol consumption before diagnosis was not associated with disease-specific survival, but we found a suggestion favoring moderate consumption. There was no evidence for an association with post-diagnosis alcohol intake and breast cancer survival,” the authors write. “This study, however, does provide support for a benefit of limited alcohol intake for cardiovascular and overall survival in women with breast cancer.”

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