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AACR: Alcohol Linked to Postmenopausal Breast Cancer

Risk higher in women with certain single nucleotide polymorphisms and in beer drinkers

MONDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- In postmenopausal women, the presence of certain single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in combination with alcohol use may increase the risk of breast cancer. But any alcohol use -- especially beer -- is associated with an elevated risk, according to two studies presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in San Diego.

In one study, Catalin Marian, M.D., of the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and colleagues performed genomic DNA and SNP genotyping in 991 cases and 1,698 controls between 1996 and 2001. The researchers found that two SNPs -- rs1042026 in ADH1B and rs1614972 in ADH1C -- were associated with risk for postmenopausal women and that rs1042026 had a significant interaction with alcohol.

In a second study, Jasmine Q. Lew, of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues studied 184,418 postmenopausal women for an average of seven years. Compared to abstainers, the researchers found that the risk of breast cancer was higher in women who consumed either one to three drinks or more than three drinks per day of beer (relative risk 1.20 and 1.73, respectively), wine (RR, 1.20 and 1.41, respectively), or liquor (RR, 1.27 and 1.25, respectively).

"Alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels, increased the risk of breast cancer," Lew and colleagues conclude. "This positive association was largely confined to ER+/PR+ tumors."

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