Increased Alcohol Drinking, Heart Disease & Breast Cancer

What are the effects of increased alcohol drinking on heart disease and breast cancer among women after menopause?

To examine this question, researchers in Denmark studied 21,523 women after menopause. The women were in the Diet, Cancer, and Health Study. During a five-year period some women increased their alcohol intake. Some decreased it. And many made no changes. Researchers followed all of them up after 11 years.

Effects of Increased Alcohol Drinking

Women who increased their drinking over a five year period had a lower risk of coronary heart disease. They also had a higher risk of breast cancer. That’s compared with stable alcohol drinkers.

increased alcohol drinking Researchers compared those who increased their intake by seven drinks per week with those who decreased it by 14 drinks per week.

Those who had the higher increases had the greater decreases in risk of coronary heart disease. They also had the greater risk for breast cancer.

These findings persisted after adjusting for age, body mass index, education and smoking. Also for hormone replacement therapy, Medit diet score, and number of births.

Comparative Risks

The risk of dying from heart disease is about ten to twelve times higher than dying from breast cancer. Balancing health risks is a very personal matter.

For this reason, women might want to discuss their total risk factors with their doctor. This could help them make well-informed decisions.

Other Research on Effects of Increased Alcohol Drinking.

The results of this study are consistent with a similar earlier one. It followed 7,697 non-drinkers for ten years. During that time 6% began drinking in moderation. After four years, new moderate drinkers had a 38% lower risk of cardiovascular disease than the continuing abstainers. Again, this difference persisted after adjusting for physical activity, body mass index, demographic, and cardiac risk factors,


These studies are important. That’s because they provide more evidence that the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease among moderate drinkers results from the alcohol itself. It can’t be explained away by differences in lifestyle, genetics, or other factors.

There are things that may contribute to breast cancer prevention.

    • Avoid becoming overweight.
    • Drink in moderation..
    • Avoid hormone replacement therapy.
    • Exercise regularly.
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    • This site gives no advice. Please see your doctor with questions.