Cancer Prevention Institute of California Study Finds Reduced Breast Cancer Risk from Alcohol Use Following Cessation of Hormone Therapy

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In a study of postmenopausal women, CPIC researchers found that women who used hormone therapy no longer have elevated risk of breast cancer from alcohol consumption once they halt hormone therapy use.

...after a woman stops using hormone therapy, her risk associated with moderate alcohol consumption is substantially reduced.

In a recent study, researchers from the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) examined whether the increased breast cancer risk related to alcohol consumption in postmenopausal women was affected by the use of hormone therapy (HT), and found that after women stopped using HT, their risk of breast cancer was no longer elevated with moderate alcohol consumption.

“Our findings confirm that using hormone therapy and consuming alcohol together will increase older women’s risk of developing breast cancer,” said CPIC Senior Research Scientist and Study Lead Pamela Horn-Ross, Ph.D., “However, after a woman stops using HT, her risk associated with moderate alcohol consumption is substantially reduced.”

The study, published in this month's electronic version of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention and based on information gathered from more than 40,000 participants in the California Teachers Study, found that while breast cancer risk was increased in postmenopausal women who consumed alcohol and were current HT users, it was not increased with alcohol consumption in women who had stopped using HT more than two years ago.

For the study, alcohol consumption was broken down into three groups: non-drinkers, drinkers consuming the equivalent of one drink per day and drinkers consuming the equivalent of two or more drinks per day. The study showed that HT use, when combined with alcohol consumption of two or more drinks per day, led to an approximately two-fold increase in risk over HT use alone. However, no significant increase was observed among former HT users, including those who had stopped taking HT less than three years earlier.

The research was supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute as well as the California Breast Cancer Research Fund.

About the Cancer Prevention Institute of California
The Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) is the nation’s premier organization dedicated to preventing cancer and to reducing its burden where it cannot yet be prevented. CPIC tracks patterns of cancer throughout the entire population and identifies those at risk for developing cancer. Its research scientists are leaders in investigating the causes of cancer in large populations to advance the development of prevention-focused interventions. CPIC’s innovative cancer prevention research and education programs, together with the Stanford Cancer Institute, deliver a comprehensive arsenal for defeating cancer. For more information, visit CPIC’s official website at

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Stephen Texeira
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