Despite extensive investigation of the association between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk, effect of low-to-moderate alcohol intake on breast cancer incidence has been inconsistent.
A case-control study was conducted in China, 2004-2005 to examine the association by menopausal status, oestrogen (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) status of the tumour. There were 1009 incident cases with histologically confirmed breast cancer and 1009 age-matched controls recruited. We assessed alcohol consumption by face-to-face interview using a validated questionnaire and obtained tumour ER and PR status from pathology reports.
Low-to-moderate alcohol consumption was inversely associated with breast cancer risk. Compared with nondrinkers, the adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for alcohol <5 g per day were 0.41 (95% confidence interval 0.27-0.62) and 0.62 (0.48-0.79) in postmenopausal and premenopausal women, respectively. The inverse association was consistent for alcohol <15 g per day across hormone receptor status groups with ORs of 0.36-0.56 in postmenopausal women and 0.57-0.64 in premenopausal women. An exception was that alcohol 15 g per day appeared to increase the risk of breast cancers with discordant receptor status in postmenopausal women, that is, ER+/PR− or ER−/PR+(4.27, 1.57-11.65).
We found that low-to-moderate alcohol intake was not associated with increased risk of breast cancer in pre- or postmenopausal Chinese women. Future studies are required to understand differences in effect of alcohol on breast cancers by tumour hormone receptor status.