Background: Alcohol consumption has been suggested to increase risk of breast cancer through a mechanism that also increases mammographic density. Whether the association between alcohol consumption and mammographic density is modified by background breast cancer risk has, however, not been studied.
Methods: We conducted a population-based cross-sectional study of 53 060 Swedish women aged 40-74 years. Alcohol consumption was assessed using a web-based self-administered questionnaire. Mammographic density was measured using the fully-automated volumetric Volpara method. The Tyrer-Cuzick prediction model was used to estimate risk of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years. Linear regression models were used to evaluate the association between alcohol consumption and volumetric mammographic density and the potential influence of Tyrer-Cuzick breast cancer risk.
Results: Overall, increasing alcohol consumption was associated with higher absolute dense volume (cm(3)) and per cent dense volume (%). The association between alcohol consumption and absolute dense volume was most pronounced among women with the highest (⩾5%) Tyrer-Cuzick 10-year risk. Among high-risk women, women consuming 5.0-9.9, 10.0-19.9, 20.0-29.9, and 30.0-40.0 g of alcohol per day had 2.6 cm(3) (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.2-4.9), 2.9 cm(3) (95% CI, -0.6 to 6.3), 4.6 cm(3) (95% CI, 1.5-7.7), and 10.8 cm(3) (95% CI, 4.8-17.0) higher absolute dense volume, respectively, as compared with women abstaining from alcohol. A trend of increasing alcohol consumption and higher absolute dense volume was seen in women at low (⩽3%) risk, but not in women at moderate (3.0-4.9%) risk.
Conclusion: Alcohol consumption may increase breast cancer risk through increasing mammographic density, particularly in women at high background risk of breast cancer.