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Teens drinking alcohol face higher risk for breast cancer

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If you read foodconsumer.org, you may have known that alcohol or alcoholic beverages are officially recognized by the National Toxicology Program as human cancer causing agents.

A few cancers including breast cancer are associated with drinking alcohol. A new study in the May, 2010 issue of Pediatrics confirmed that alcohol drinking at young ages can be particularly harmful.

The study led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis and Harvard University found that girls and young women who drank alcohol were at higher risk of benign breast disease, which can develop to become breast cancer.

Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH from Washington University School Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital and colleagues studied alcohol drinking statuses of 6899 girls aged 9 to 15 between 1996 and 2007 and benign breast disease.

High consumption of alcohol was associated with high risk of benign breast disease, the researchers found. Specifically, girls and young women who drank six or seven days a week were 5.5 times more likely to develop benign breast disease than those who didn't drink or who had less than one drink per week.   Those who reported drinking three to five days per week had three times the risk.

"We know from many other studies of adult women that alcohol intake later in life increases breast cancer risk," Colditz says.

"But many women begin drinking alcohol as adolescents right at the time in which breast tissue is going through stages of rapid proliferation. So we wanted to see if the effect of alcohol on breast cancer risk was operative in this younger group."

Jimmy Downs

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