WXXI AM News

School-aged drinking linked to higher breast cancer risk

Aug 30, 2013
Originally published on August 30, 2013 2:01 pm

The more alcohol young women drink before motherhood, the greater their risk of future breast cancer according to a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The findings are based on a review of the health histories of 91,005 mothers enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II from 1989 to 2009.

They show that if a woman averages one drink per day between her first period and having her first child, she increases her risk of breast cancer by 11 percent, an average of two drinks per day means an increased risk of 22 percent and so on.

Additionally, the research shows that for every bottle of beer, glass of wine, or shot of liquor consumed daily, a young woman also increases the risk of proliferative benign breast disease by 15 percent.

Dr. Alissa Huston from the University of Rochester’s cancer center says this kind of disease is noncancerous, but its presence can greatly increase the risk of breast cancer.

According to the study, it can increase that risk by as much as 500 percent.

Huston says with more and more women having children later in life, it’s important for them to try to moderate alcohol consumption early on.

“We know that women are delaying having children later and later, and that is probably not going to get shorter. So this is something women can actively change or impact to try and reduce their risk.”

Huston says with more and more heavy drinking occurring in college and during adolescence, young women need to be conscious of the risks they face consuming more than one drink per day.

She says the best advice to live by is, everything in moderation.

“If you are a college student out there, if you are of drinking age, try to moderate that amount of alcohol. I think one of the things that I often tell my patients about a lot of kind of health related items is, moderation is probably the key.”