August 29, 2013
Consuming Alcohol Before First Pregnancy Linked With Increased Risk Of BBD & Breast Cancer
Drinking alcohol before first pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of benign breast disease (BBD) and breast cancer, independent of drinking after first pregnancy, according to a new study published August 28 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Previous studies have shown that alcohol consumed in the past year affects a woman's breast cancer risk. However, data on the relationship between drinking alcohol during the period of time between a woman's first menstrual period and first pregnancy and the risk of proliferative BBD and breast cancer had not been reported. Breast tissue is particularly susceptible to carcinogens during that period of time.
Drinking alcohol between the first menstrual period and first pregnancy was associated with risk of breast cancer and proliferative BBD, regardless of drinking after the first pregnancy. The data indicated a dose-dependent relationship, which means the more alcohol a woman drinks during that time, the higher her risk of developing breast cancer. Also, the authors observed longer intervals between first menstrual period and first pregnancy showed stronger associations compared with shorter intervals. The authors also report drinking after the first pregnancy was associated with breast cancer risk but not BBD.
The authors write, "The general consistency in the patterns of association between alcohol and risk of proliferative BBD and of breast cancer lends support to the hypothesis that alcohol intake, particularly before first pregnancy when breast tissue is likely at its most vulnerable stage, may play an important role in the etiology of breast cancer." These findings have potentially important implications for breast cancer prevention.
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