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Early drinking increases breast cancer risk

Teens and young adult women who want to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer should avoid alcohol, according to a new study. Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that drinking between early adolescence and a first full-term pregnancy may increase a woman's risk for developing the disease.

"More and more heavy drinking is occurring on college campuses and during adolescence, and not enough people are considering future risk," said Dr. Graham Colditz, one of the study's authors, in a press release. "But, according to our research, the lesson is clear: If a female averages a drink per day between her first period and her first full-term pregnancy, she increases her risk of breast cancer by 13 percent."

The results of the study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, are based on the responses of over 91,000 mothers enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study II from 1989 to 2009. The researchers analyzed the women's alcohol consumption during early adulthood, and explored how that influenced their risk of later developing breast cancer.

In addition, the Washington University team found that one daily drink during early adulthood raises a woman's risk for benign breast disease by 15 percent. Although not cancer itself, benign breast disease is another risk factor for the condition. 

The researchers suggest in their report that parents be more proactive about warning their daughters about the dangers associated with early alcohol consumption. 

The fight against drug and alcohol abuse begins at home. If your teen is struggling with alcoholism, contact Intervention Services today. We can put you in contact with an experienced interventionist who can help your child make full recovery. 

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