Burying the lead on the drinking/breast cancer story

Nature Network Boston faced a dilemma two weeks back when Harvard researcher Walter Willet mentioned the findings of a then unpublished study during a talk on nutrition.

He made the point that alcohol – it doesn’t have to be red wine — lowers the risk of heart disease.

So, go for the scotch – unless you’re a recovering alcoholic or worried about breast cancer. The link between alcohol and breast cancer is clear and it will be even clearer when his new paper comes out. And even though he revealed the increased risk that comes with even light drinking, we won’t. Let’s just say that if you are more worried about breast cancer than heart disease, you might  want to consider giving up the booze. Or cutting way,way back.

So, maybe cutting back isn’t the answer. Which is one of several reasons NNB chose to hold back a bit on the scoop and went for the tease. Better to get it right than get it first.

Here’s the full paper from JAMA.

Conclusions Low levels of alcohol consumption were associated with a small increase in breast cancer risk, with the most consistent measure  being cumulative alcohol intake throughout adult life. Alcohol intake both earlier and later in adult life was independently associated with risk.                 


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