Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

Photo: Curt Gibbs

This week brought more information for women to consider as they choose whether to alter their lives to decrease the risk of developing breast cancer. As reported in the New York Times, Dr. Wendy Y. Chen and her colleagues evaluated 105,986 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study, which is famous for its long term follow up of the nurses in the United States.  This study, “published in the latest issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, examined the quantity, frequency and age at which women consumed alcohol from 1980 to 2008″ as the Times “Health” section reported.

“The latest study is among the first to assess the effect of relatively small amounts of alcohol over long periods of time, drawing on a large population of women to provide new details about the breast cancer risks associated with different patterns of drinking.”

During the period, of the study, 28 years, “roughly 7,700 of the women enrolled developed invasive breast cancer. The researchers found that having 5 to 10 grams of alcohol a day, the equivalent of roughly three to six glasses of wine a week, raised a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 15 percent. The effects were cumulative; with each 10-gram increase in alcohol consumption per day, the risk climbed 10 percent.”

Women have been told that some red wine will lower their risk of coronary artery disease and often take that nebulous “some” to one or two drinks a night and more on the weekends. We have discussed the relationship of alcohol consumption and its impact on breast cancer risk, sleep disturbance, cognitive decline, mood disorders and obesity.

Although we can expect this debate over alcohol consumption to continue, it seems prudent to have no more than 1/2 glass of red wine a night—unless one’s appetite for risk is as high as one’s appetite for booze.

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  • dore hammond November 10, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Pat,
    I follow your every word and know that you are right on with this advice!
    Thanks,
    Dore

    Reply
  • Dr Pat Allen November 10, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Dear Roz,

    A compliment from you about any of my prose is treasured.

    Pat

    Reply
  • RozWarren November 8, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Great last line! And great information. Thanks.

    Reply