Teen drinking may boost odds of precancerous breast changes

April 9, 2012 By Kathleen Doheny, HealthDay Reporter
Teen drinking may boost odds of precancerous  breast changes
The more alcohol consumed, the higher the likelihood, researchers say.

(HealthDay) -- Teenage girls and young adult women who drink even moderate amounts of alcohol appear to increase their risk of developing breast changes that can lead to cancer, according to a large new study.

The study, which followed more than 29,000 females, found that for each 10 grams of alcohol (the equivalent of about one drink) consumed each day, the risk of developing these noncancerous cells and lesions -- called proliferative benign (BDD) -- increased 15 percent.

"It's clear that this study shows that late adolescent alcohol [drinking] drives up the risk of these preliminary benign changes in the breast," said Dr. Graham Colditz, a professor of surgery and associate director for prevention and control at the Siteman Cancer Center of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

"The risk is substantial," Colditz said. The good news? Young women who are aware of the link can change their behavior, he said.

The study, published online April 9, appears in the May print issue of Pediatrics.

A link between alcohol and has already been established. who drink two to five a day have 1.5 times the risk of breast cancer compared to nondrinkers, according to the .

But the mechanism behind that association is not clear, and the researchers wanted to see if high levels of folate, a , could offset the , as some previous reports have suggested.

Alcohol is thought to hamper the availability of folate, especially in . Too little folate, in turn, can abnormally affect DNA.

Colditz and his colleagues evaluated data from the Nurses' II to focus on earlier drinking habits. The women, who were free of cancer and benign breast disease at the study's start, answered questions about alcohol and folate intake.

"We looked at the between ages 18 and 22, and we converted it into drinks per day," he said.

Colditz's team found folate intake had no effect on benign breast disease, but alcohol did.

About one-fourth of those surveyed did not drink as teens and young adults. About 11 percent had high intake, drinking the equivalent of 1.5 drinks a day or more. The others had low or moderate drinking patterns.

After an average follow-up of 10 years, the researchers found 659 cases of benign breast disease. The more alcohol a woman consumed, the greater the likelihood she would develop the breast changes, the researchers said.

Experts said the findings are a matter of concern.

"Alcohol consumption even during young adulthood does appear to play an important role in adverse breast health," said Susan Gapstur, vice president of the epidemiology research program for the American Cancer Society.

Not everyone with proliferative benign breast disease gets breast cancer, of course. However, benign breast disease "is an important, consistent risk factor," Gapstur said.

Dr. Jonathan Espenschied, director of graduate medical education and clinical training at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif., said the study clearly suggests that health behaviors during adolescence and young adulthood affect health later.

In his work with young adult and teen patients, Espenschied said he tries to educate them about drinking, instead of telling them not to drink. "I would want them to be aware of alcohol consumption and what it can do, not just in terms of breast cancer," he said. "They are young adults and they are going to make their own decision."

While the study uncovered an association between adolescent alcohol use and benign breast disease, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Explore further: Girls with family history of breast disease should avoid alcohol

More information: To learn more about the risk factors for breast cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.

Abstract
Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

Related Stories

Girls with family history of breast disease should avoid alcohol

November 14, 2011
Adding to research linking alcohol to breast cancer risk, a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows that adolescent girls with a family history of breast disease — either cancer or ...

Even a little drinking may raise breast cancer risk: study

March 29, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Just one alcoholic drink a day can boost a woman's risk of breast cancer by about 5 percent, according to a new review of existing research.

Low levels of alcohol consumption associated with small increased risk of breast cancer

November 1, 2011
Consumption of 3 to 6 alcoholic drinks per week is associated with a small increase in the risk of breast cancer, and consumption in both earlier and later adult life is also associated with an increased risk, according to ...

Association of quantity of alcohol and frequency of consumption with cancer mortality

October 20, 2011
A paper from the National Institutes of Health in the United States has evaluated the separate and combined effects of the frequency of alcohol consumption and the average quantity of alcohol drunk per occasion and how that ...

Recommended for you

Regular takeaways linked to kids' heart disease and diabetes risk factors

December 14, 2017
Kids who regularly eat take-away meals may be boosting their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Simulation model finds Cure Violence program and targeted policing curb urban violence

December 14, 2017
When communities and police work together to deter urban violence, they can achieve better outcomes with fewer resources than when each works in isolation, a simulation model created by researchers at the UC Davis Violence ...

One in five patients report discrimination in health care

December 14, 2017
Almost one in five older patients with a chronic disease reported experiencing health care discrimination of one type or another in a large national survey that asked about their daily experiences of discrimination between ...

Your pets can't put your aging on 'paws'

December 14, 2017
(HealthDay)—In a finding that's sure to ruffle some fur and feathers, scientists report that having a pet doesn't fend off age-related declines in physical or mental health.

Searching for a link between achy joints and rainy weather in a flood of data, researchers come up dry

December 13, 2017
Rainy weather has long been blamed for achy joints. Unjustly so, according to new research from Harvard Medical School. The analysis, published Dec. 13 in BMJ, found no relationship between rainfall and joint or back pain.

Mistletoe and (a large) wine: Seven-fold increase in wine glass size over 300 years

December 13, 2017
Our Georgian and Victorian ancestors probably celebrated Christmas with more modest wine consumption than we do today - if the size of their wine glasses are anything to go by. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.