Teenage drinking may lead to benign breast cancer: Study

The study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine and Harvard University claimed that young girls who booze all seven days of a week were more than five times as likely to develop benign breast disease compared to their teetotalling counterparts or those who abstained.

Benign breast disease or noncancerous lumps, bumps or cysts in the breast are known risk factors for breast cancer.

Reporting their findings in journal Pediatrics, the researchers said the study raised concern because alcohol intakes by college students has increased greatly in recent years, whereas drinking by adult women is one of few known dietary risk factors for breast cancer.

"If future work confirms our findings, then clinical efforts to delay the onset of alcohol consumption may prevent some cases of benign breast disease and breast cancer," said Catherine S Berkey, a lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School, who led the study.
For their study, the researchers interviewed 6,899 girls and young women, who were aged between 9 and 15 years when the study had begun, about their drinking habits and whether they had developed benign breast disease.
It was found that 147 women had been diagnosed with it and 67 of these women said this diagnosis was confirmed with a biopsy.

And those who drank alcohol regularly were more than five times as likely to develop benign breast disease compared to their counterparts who abstained, the study showed.
It also found that teens and adolescent girls who drank three to five days per week had three times the risk of developing the disease as their counterparts who did not drink alcohol.

Though the researchers could not understand exactly how teenage drinking raises risk for benign breast disease, they believe that alcohol use may increase levels of the female sex hormone oestrogen, which may foster the development of benign lumps, bumps, and cysts in the breasts.

"The breasts of young girls are very active and if you give them extra hormones or alcohol, then they can respond by creating lumps and bumps and things in the category of benign breast disease, and if you keep this going, it can increase the risk of breast cancer," founder of advocacy group Breastcancer.org Marisa Weiss was quoted as saying by WebMd.

"You are laying the foundation for your future breast health during adolescence.
"The habits that you develop as an adolescent are likely to turn into lifelong habits, and we know that drinking in adult women is a risk factor for breast cancer," she added.

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