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Relatively small amounts of alcohol consumption may be linked to an increased risk of receiving a positive breast cancer test, according to a new study from a team of Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers.
The study showed that moderate alcohol consumption (which was judged as between three and six drinks per week) increased the risk of breast cancer by 15 percent.
Excessive drinking has long been known to predispose women to breast cancer, but the finding that moderate consumption is also linked to the disease is new. The researchers said that very little investigation had previously been conducted into the health effects of lower levels of drinking.
"In many studies, higher consumption of alcohol has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. However, the effect of low levels of drinking as is common in the United States has not been well quantified," the team wrote in their report.
While the increase in odds is modest, doctors should still take into consider a women's alcohol consumption when assessing breast cancer risk, the researchers said. Even a few drinks each week may be enough to increase the likelihood of cancer.
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