A new study finds that or more drinks double the risk of endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women
“This is the first prospective study to report a significant association between alcohol and endometrial cancer,” says Veronica Wendy Setiawan, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Previous studies have shown that alcohol consumption has been associated with higher levels of estrogens in postmenopausal women, which could be the mechanism by which daily alcohol intake increases one’s risk of endometrial cancer.”
The study done at the University of Southern California (USC) is published in the International Journal of Cancer
“This discovery is important as it suggests that changes to certain lifestyle choices may potentially help alter risk of the disease,“ says by Brian Henderson, M.D., dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the paper’s senior author. “However, these findings are preliminary and must be investigated further before any recommendations about alcohol consumption can be made.”
The study followed 41,574 postmenopausal African-American, Japanese-American, Latina, Native-Hawaiian and White women in Los Angeles and Hawaii for an average of eight years. Data on alcohol intake and endometrial cancer risk factors were obtained from a baseline questionnaire.
“It’s important for women, especially postmenopausal women, to know and understand the consequences of high alcohol consumption. It does not affect just the liver, but alcohol has been associated with breast cancer and now endometrial cancer,” said Setiawan.
The study also found that the association of alcohol intake and endometrial cancer is stronger among lean women than among overweight or obese postmenopausal women.
“Our data suggest that lean women may be more sensitive to modest elevations in hormone levels resulting from alcohol drinking than obese women who already have high levels of estrogen and therefore mask alcohol as an independent risk factor,” concludes Setiawan. “Again, this is all preliminary and more studies with sufficient numbers of heavy drinkers are needed to corroborate our finding.”