The association of alcohol consumption with increased risk for breast cancer led US researchers to summarise the available epidemiologic information from human and animal investigations.
According to Keith W. Singletary, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Susan M. Gapstur, Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago there appear to be a variety of mechanisms underlying the diet-disease risk. Principle mechanisms were identified as: increased estrogen and androgen levels in women consuming alcohol; enhanced mammary gland susceptibility to carcinogenesis; increased mammary carcinogen DNA damage and greater metastatic potential of breast cancer cells.
Other dietary factors, such as low intake of the B vitamin folate, lifestyle habits and choices (the use of hormone replacement therapy, e.g.) and biological factors may also affect susceptibility to the breast cancer-enhancing effects of alcohol.
The authors suggest that there is a direct relationship with the amount of alcohol consumed and increased risk, but the type of alcohol consumed is not a factor.
Full findings are published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.