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Cohort study
Late-life increases in alcohol consumption among postmenopausal women appear associated with greater breast cancer risk and less coronary heart disease risk
  1. Tim R Stockwell1,
  2. Tanya N Chikritzhs2
  1. 1Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2National Drug Research Institute, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: Professor Tim R Stockwell, Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia (CARBC), University of Victoria, PO Box 1700 STN CSC, Victoria, BC V8W 2Y2, Canada; timstock{at}

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The hypothesis that alcohol consumption leads to reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) has immense clinical and public policy implications. Some meta-analyses of observational epidemiological studies have reported that ‘moderate’ alcohol use significantly reduces CHD risk. However, this has been contested on multiple theoretical and empirical grounds,1–3 including arguments that selection biases operating across the life course contribute to a false appearance of CHD protection.


Health outcomes for a cohort of postmenopausal women (n=21 523) with average age 62.2 years at baseline were assessed over 11 years from the Danish hospital, death records and cancer register. This sample comprised women who agreed to be interviewed on two separate occasions 5 years apart, representing 81% of those enrolled …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.