Patterns of alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk in the California Teachers Study cohort

Pamela L. Horn-Ross, Alison J. Canchola, Dee W. West, Susan L Stewart, Leslie Bernstein, Dennis Deapen, Rich Pinder, Ronald K. Ross, Hoda Anton-Culver, David Peel, Argyrious Ziogas, Peggy Reynolds, William Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Alcohol consumption of approximately two drinks or more per day has been associated with elevated breast cancer risk in the California Teachers Study cohort as well as in many other populations. The objective of this analysis is to examine effects of age at drinking and drinking patterns and to identify effect modifiers. Of the 103,460 at-risk cohort members, age <85, who resided in California and completed the baseline alcohol assessment, 1,742 were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer after joining the cohort and before January 2001. Incident breast cancers were identified through the California Cancer Registry and follow-up for death and confirmation of continued California residence used various sources. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate relative risks (RRs). Elevated breast cancer risk was most evident for recent drinking [RR = 1.28, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.06-1.54 for ≥20 g/day versus nondrinkers], with no clear pattern for consumption during earlier periods of life. This elevation in risk was 32% among postmenopausal women (95% CI: 1.06-1.63) and 21% among pre/perimenopausal women (95% CI: 0.76-1.92). Highest risks associated with heavy alcohol consumption were observed among postmenopausal women with a history of biopsy-diagnosed benign breast disease (RR = 1.97, 95% CI: 1.39-2.79 compared to nondrinkers without benign breast disease) or who had used combination hormone replacement therapy (HRT) (RR = 2.24, 95% CI: 1.59-3.14 compared to nondrinkers who never used HRT). Recent alcohol consumption equivalent to two or more drinks per day increases the risk of invasive breast cancer, with the greatest RRs observed among heavy drinkers who are also postmenopausal and have a history of benign breast disease or who use HRT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-411
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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