The 2005 and 2007 surveys, conducted when the participants were ages 18 to 27, asked whether they had ever been diagnosed with benign breast disease, a large class of conditions that can cause breast lumps or pain and are a known risk factor for breast cancer. Sixty-seven of the young women reported a diagnosis of benign breast disease that was confirmed by biopsy, and 6,741 reported no such diagnosis.
The researchers first looked at the effects of family history, independent of alcohol. They found that when a young woman's mother or aunt had breast cancer, she was more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with benign breast disease than a young woman with no family history. Similarly, daughters of mothers with benign breast disease were almost twice as likely to develop benign breast disease themselves.
And alcohol heightened a young girl's risk further if she had a family history. Girls whose mothers, aunts or grandmothers had breast cancer were more likely to develop benign breast disease, and their risk increased with the amount of alcohol they consumed. The same was true of the daughters of women with benign breast disease.
In an interesting finding, young women with no family history of breast disease saw no elevated risk of benign breast lesions with alcohol consumption. Instead, their risk appeared to be related to increased body mass index in childhood, waist circumference in adolescence and height in adulthood. Such findings suggest that risk factors differ between those women with a family history of breast cancer and those without.
"Increasing height is related to breast cancer risk,
|Contact: Judy Martin|
Washington University School of Medicine