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Teen Drinking May Boost Breast Problems Later
Date:4/12/2010

As alcohol consumption increases, so does risk for non-cancerous breast disease, study finds

MONDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) -- Frequent alcohol consumption by teenage girls may increase the chances that they will develop non-cancerous breast disease in their 20s and possibly breast cancer later in life.

Research published online April 12 in the journal Pediatrics found that girls who drank the most alcohol during their teen years -- daily or nearly every day -- were five times more likely to develop benign breast disease as young adults than were their peers who never drank or drank less than once a week.

Benign breast disease (BBD) includes a number of nonmalignant conditions. Fibroadenoma, a noncancerous tumor, is the most common in those aged 30 and younger. Study co-author Catherine Berkey, a biostatistician at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said that benign breast disease is known to boost the risk for breast cancer.

So does that mean that teens who drink alcohol are increasing their breast cancer risk early in life?

"Our study may suggest that teen drinking increases the risk for breast cancer, whether in all females or in those who go on to develop BBD, but longer-term follow-up is certainly required" to confirm it, she said.

A unique aspect of Berkey's study was that the girls assessed their drinking habits while they were teenagers. Other studies have based their conclusions on adult women's recalling their teenage drinking many years later.

"Our new study is the first in which alcohol data were collected during adolescence, with continued follow-up in the females as they develop disease," she said.

The study involved 6,899 women who had become participants in the "Growing Up Today Study" when they were 9 to 15 years old. Information on alcoholic beverage consumption was collected in a follow-up survey when the participants were 16 to 23 years old, and
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