The Journal of the National Cancer Institute has revealed an interesting connection between early drinking and breast cancer risk. According to the study, the amount of drinking that occurs between the time a young women has her first period and the time when she carries her first baby to term may increase or decrease risk of breast cancer

More than 90,000 women's health histories were part of the study which spanned from 1989 to 2009. Age groups studied were 15 to 17, 18 to 22, 23 to 30 and 31 to 40 years of age. Over the course of the study there were slightly more than 1,600 cases of breast cancer diagnosed. Researchers also noted nearly 1,000 cases of BBD (benign breast disease).

When drinking habits were compared to diagnosis, researchers found women increased risk of breast cancer by 15% for every drink consumed on a daily basis. Of course, that does not mean if a woman has 10 drinks one night in college she increases her risk of breast cancer by 150% - the increase was noted based on daily consumption of alcohol. Overall, the increased risk of breast cancer for women who consumed one alcoholic drink per day during the time between first period and first full-term pregnancy was 13%. 

Researchers and authors went on to discuss the increasing number of college students who binge drink and how this binge drinking could result in increased risk of breast cancer, but what kept coming to mind were women who chose to wait until their mid 30s or early 40s to have children. Over the course of up to 30 years there are bound to be quite a few parties, a nightly glass of wine or two or a few too many beers on football Sunday, for some women. There are even some health experts who suggest a glass or two of wine each night to improve overall health, but according to this study, just one glass of wine each night would increase the risk of breast cancer 13% for women who wait to have children and likely more for women who consume two glasses of wine each night. 

Source: Ying Liu, Graham A. Colditz, Bernard Rosner, Catherine S. Berkey, Laura C. Collins, Stuart J. Schnitt, James L. Connolly, Wendy Y. Chen, Walter C. Willett and Rulla M. Tamimi. Alcohol Intake Between Menarche and First Pregnancy: A Prospective Study of Breast Cancer Risk. JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2013). doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt213.

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