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Study Links School Age Drinking to Increased Risk of Breast Cancer

First Posted: Aug 29, 2013 08:42 AM EDT

A latest study states that drinking alcohol before motherhood increases the risk of breast cancer.

The study conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, discovered a strong association between consumption of alcohol during early adolescence and increased risk of breast cancer.

Studies conducted earlier have revealed how alcohol consumption in later life increases the risk of breast cancer as well as the effect of adolescent drinking on noncancerous breast disease, but this is the first study that links adolescence drinking to breast cancer.

"More and more heavy drinking is occurring on college campuses and during adolescence, and not enough people are considering future risk. But, according to our research, the lesson is clear: If a female averages a drink per day between her first period and her first full-term pregnancy, she increases her risk of breast cancer by 13 percent," said co-author Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, associate director for cancer prevention and control at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.

During the study the researchers also discovered that for every bottle of beer or glass of liquor or  wine that they consume daily, young women's risk for proliferative benign breast disease increases by 1 percent. Although this abnormality is noncancerous its presence elevates the risk of cancer by 500 percent.

The researcher suggests that parents should take the responsibility of educating their daughters about the association between alcohol consumption and increased risk of breast cancer.

The researchers reached the conclusion based on the analysis of data of 91,005 mothers who were a part of the Nurses' Health Study II from 1989 to 2009.

They found that the breast tissue cells are more vulnerable to cancer causing substance as they undergo proliferation during adolescence and in later life.

To lower the risk women should drink less alcohol.

"Reducing drinking to less than one drink per day, especially during this time period, is a key strategy to reducing lifetime risk of breast cancer," he concluded.

The study was published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute.

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