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Breast cancer

Early Drinking may Increase Risk of Breast Disease and Breast Cancer

Monday, April 19, 2010 by: Wee Peng Ho
Tags: breast cancer, drinking, health news

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(NewsTarget) Females who drink at an early age are at increased risk for developing benign breast disease, according to a new study reported online April 12 in Pediatrics. Benign breast lumps, or noncancerous bumps, cysts or lumps in the breast are known risk factors for breast cancer.

Following some 7,000 girls aged 9 to 15 from 1996 to 2007, researchers found that the risk of benign breast disease increased with the amount and frequency of alcohol consumed in young women. Specifically, respondents who reported drinking six or seven days per week were 5.5 times more likely to have benign breast disease than those who never drank or who drank less than once a week, reported the study authors, led by Catherine S. Berkey, ScD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston. Teen girls who drank three to five days a week were at 3-fold risk.

All the respondents were part of the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS), a large-scale study of American adolescent girls whose mothers participated in the Nurses' Health Study II.

Started in 1996, GUTS involved more than 9,000 adolescent girls who answered questionnaires annually from 1996 through 2001, followed by surveys in 2003, 2005 and 2007. The 2003 survey, carried out when the respondents were 16 to 23 years old, contained questions about their alcohol consumption in the previous year. The 2005 and 2007 surveys asked whether they had ever been diagnosed with benign breast disease by a health care provider. A total of 6,899 women aged 18 to 27 years responded to the 2005 and 2007 surveys.

"We know from many other studies of adult women that alcohol intake later in life increases breast cancer risk," says Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, associate director of prevention and control at the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

"But many women begin drinking alcohol as adolescents right at the time in which breast tissue is going through stages of rapid proliferation. So we wanted to see if the effect of alcohol on breast cancer risk was operative in this younger group."

The effect seems apparent. On average, participants who were diagnosed with benign breast disease drank more frequently, had more per occasion, and reported more cases of binge drinking. They also consumed two times more alcohol per day compared to those without benign breast disease.

"The study is an indication that alcohol should be limited in adolescence and early adult years and further focuses our attention on these years as key to preventing breast cancer later in life," says Colditz.

The results of the study add to the growing list of problems associated with early drinking. Previous research has linked early alcohol use with alcoholism, employment problems, drug abuse and criminal and violent acts.


About the author

Wee Peng Ho is a health enthusiast who enjoys writing about physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Learn how to use anti-inflammatory food, natural herbs, selected quality supplements (such as Zyflamend), guided meditations and more to improve your life on his website. While you're at it, don't forget to claim your FREE subscription to his newsletter and get access to exclusive contents today!

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