Adolescent alcohol consumption could increase risk of breast cancer in individuals with a family history. Researchers looked at adolescent and childhood risk factors for benign breast disease in girls having a breast cancer family history. Benign breast disease is a known breast cancer risk factor, and can result in breast pain or breast lumps. There was a significant link between amount of alcohol consumption and further increased risk of getting benign breast disease as young women in adolescent girls having a family history of breast cancer.
The researchers analyzed information from the Growing Up Today Study, which includes Females aged 9 to 15 years old completed questionnaires over a period of 11 years, providing details regarding age at first menstrual period, alcohol consumption, body mass index and height.
The individuals, who were 18 to 27 years at the time of the final 2 surveys, reported whether having ever had a benign breast disease diagnosis. This diagnosis was reported by a total of 67, while another 6,741 reported no diagnosis. Mothers of participants also reported their own breast cancer and benign breast disease cases, as well as breast cancer in their mothers and sisters.
Young women whose aunts or mothers had breast cancer were more than two times as likely to have a benign breast disease diagnosis in comparison to young women without a family history. Young women with mothers who had benign breast disease also saw their own risk almost double. Even more important, in adolescent girls with an aunt, mother, or grandmother having breast cancer, the higher the girls’ alcohol consumption, the more likely they were as young women to get benign breast disease. Likewise for girls with mothers who had benign breast disease. These results are consistent with prior studies in older women which showed that drinking increases breast cancer risk.
The research indicates that taking into account their family history, adolescent females already with a higher breast cancer risk, should be aware that alcohol avoidance could reduce their benign breast disease risk as young women, and later in life, a reduced breast cancer risk.