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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Alcohol and breast cancer risk among Asian-American women in Los Angeles County

Anna H Wu1*, Cheryl Vigen2, Pedram Razavi3, Chiu-Chen Tseng1 and Frank Z Stancyzk4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, 1441 Eastlake Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA

2 Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, 1540 Alcazar Street, CHP-133, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA

3 Department of Medicine, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, 1200 N State Street, Los Angeles CA 90089, USA

4 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, 201 Livingston Research Building, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA

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Breast Cancer Research 2012, 14:R151  doi:10.1186/bcr3363

Published: 27 November 2012



The role of alcohol and breast cancer risk in Asians has not been well studied. Recent studies suggest that even moderate alcohol intake may be associated with an increase in breast cancer risk, and this may be particularly relevant as alcohol intake is traditionally low among Asians.


We investigated the association between lifetime alcohol intake (including frequency, quantity, duration, timing, and beverage type) and breast cancer in a population-based case-control study of 2,229 Asian Americans diagnosed with incident breast cancer and 2,002 matched control women in Los Angeles County. Additionally, we examined the relation between current alcohol intake and serum concentrations of sex-hormones and growth factors in a subset of postmenopausal control women.


Regular lifetime alcohol intake was significantly higher in US-born than non-US-born Asian Americans (P < 0.001) and almost twice as common in Japanese- than in Chinese- and Filipino-Americans (P < 0.001). Breast cancer risk increased with increasing alcohol intake among US-born Asian Americans; the odds ratios (ORs) per 5 grams per day and per 10 years of drinking were 1.21 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.00 to 1.45) and 1.12 (95% CI, 0.98 to 1.28), respectively. Regular alcohol intake was a significant risk factor for Japanese-, but not for Chinese- and Filipino-Americans. Current consumers compared with nondrinkers showed lower concentrations of insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (P = 0.03) and nonsignificantly higher concentrations of estrone and androgens.


Regular lifetime alcohol intake is a significant breast cancer risk factor in US-born Asian Americans and Japanese Americans, emphasizing the importance of this modifiable lifestyle factor in traditionally low-risk populations.