Alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk among Hispanic and non-Hispanic women in New Mexico

Kathy B Baumgartner, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Breast cancer incidence and mortality rates for Hispanic women are lower than for non-Hispanic white (NHW) women, but recently rates have increased more rapidly among Hispanic women. Many studies have shown a consistent increased breast cancer risk associated with modest or high alcohol intake, but few included Hispanic women. Alcohol consumption and risk of breast cancer was investigated in a New Mexico statewide population-based case-control study. The New Mexico Tumor Registry ascertained women, newly diagnosed with breast cancer (1992–1994) aged 30–74 years. Controls were identified by random digit dialing and were frequency-matched for ethnicity, age-group, and health planning district. In-person interviews of 712 cases and 844 controls were conducted. Data were collected for breast cancer risk factors, including alcohol intake. Recent alcohol intake data was collected for a four-week period, six months prior to interview. Past alcohol intake included information on alcohol consumption at ages 25, 35, and 50. History of alcohol consumption was reported by 81% of cases and 85% of controls. Of these women, 42% of cases and 48% of controls reported recent alcohol intake. Results for past alcohol intake did not show any trend with breast cancer risk, and were nonsignificant. Multivariate-adjusted odds ratios for recent alcohol intake and breast cancer suggested an increased risk at the highest level for both ethnic groups, but estimates were unstable and statistically nonsignificant. Low level of recent alcohol intake (<148 grams>/week) was associated with a reduced risk for NHW women (Odds Ratio (OR) = 0.49 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.35–0.69). This pattern was independent of hormone-receptor status. The reduced breast cancer risk for low alcohol intake was present for premenopausal (OR = 0.29, 95% CI 0.15–0.56) and postmenopausal NHW women (OR = 0.56, 95% CI 0.35–0.90). The possibility of an increased risk associated with high alcohol intake could not be adequately addressed, because there were few drinkers with more than light to moderate intake, especially among Hispanic women. An alcohol-estrogen link is hypothesized to be the mechanism responsible for increased breast cancer risk, but has not been consistently substantiated. More studies are needed of the underlying mechanism for an association between alcohol intake and breast cancer.

Subject Area

Public health|Womens studies|Oncology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Baumgartner, Kathy B, "Alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk among Hispanic and non-Hispanic women in New Mexico" (1999). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9929458.