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

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

July 26, 2017
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn't, a new study found.

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

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.