August and September is the begging of the great exodus of college students from their parent’s homes back to their college dorms. For many students, this also means the beginning of weekend – and weekday – booze binging. Though unhealthy, most people associate overindulging on alcohol to be pretty typical in college, but it could come with some serious consequences for women in the future.

According to a new study conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the more young women drink before pregnancy the greater their chances of developing breast cancer. The chances are even greater if women begin drinking in their adolescence.

Co-author of the study, Dr.Graham Colditz, associate director for cancer prevention and control at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, says that "more and more heavy drinking is occurring on college campuses and during adolescence, and not enough people are considering future risk. 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."

That may not seem like a huge percentage, but remember, that’s only for one drink. The research also found that for every bottle of beer, glass of wine, or shot of liquor consumed daily, a young woman increases her risk of proliferative benign breast disease by 15%.

The reason why the threat of breast cancer is so strong for young and adolescent women who drink often is because breast tissue cells go through rapid proliferation during this time, leaving them more susceptible to disease. "Reducing drinking to less than one drink per day, especially during this time period, is a key strategy to reducing the lifetime risk of breast cancer," says Colditz.

The authors of the study understand that these warnings may not be enough to stop young women from imbibing frequently and so they have called for further research to be conducted on ways to counter the effects of drinking during adolescence. Though past studies on lessening the chance of breast cancer have not always considered the effects of alcohol, the researchers suggest that women eat more fiber and exercise often because these methods have shown to decrease the chances of developing all types of cancer.  

Source: Washington University in St. Louis (2013, August 28). School-age drinking increases breast cancer risk. ScienceDaily.

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