Little is known about the association between alcohol and breast cancer by different tumor characteristics. The study consisted of 184,418 postmenopausal women aged 50-71 years in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study (1995-2003). Alcohol use, diet, and potential risk factors for cancer were assessed with a mailed questionnaire at baseline. The relative risks and 95% confidence intervals were estimated by using Cox proportional hazards regression. Breast cancer cases and estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor status were identified through linkage to state cancer registries. During an average of 7 years of follow-up, 5,461 breast cancer cases were identified. Alcohol was significantly positively associated with total breast cancer: Even a moderate amount of alcohol (>10 g/day) significantly increased breast cancer risk. In a comparison of >35 g versus 0 g/day, the multivariate relative risks were 1.35 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.17, 1.56) for total breast cancer, 1.46 (95% CI: 1.22, 1.75) for ductal tumors, and 1.52 (95% CI: 0.95, 2.44) for lobular tumors. The multivariate relative risks for estrogen receptor-positive/progesterone receptor-positive, estrogen receptor-positive/progesterone receptor-negative, and estrogen receptor-negative/progesterone receptor-negative tumors were 1.46 (95% CI: 1.12, 1.91) for >35 g versus 0 g/day, 1.13 (95% CI: 0.73, 1.77) for >20 g versus 0 g/day, and 1.21 (95% CI: 0.79, 1.84) for >20 g versus 0 g/day, respectively. Moderate consumption of alcohol was associated with breast cancer, specifically hormone receptor-positive tumors.