Alcoholism & Addiction

Even Moderate Drinking Linked to Changes in Breast

Consuming alcohol has been linked with liver disease and several types of cancer, including breast cancer. However, for many young people, the risk is assumed to be associated with high levels of alcohol consumption.

A new study confirms that even small or moderate levels of alcohol consumed may lead to changes in DNA that affect breast tissue and these changes that are experienced can lead to cancer. The study followed over 29,000 women found that when they consumed even 10 grams of alcohol per day (about one drink), they significantly increased their risk for noncancerous lesions and cells.

Their risk was elevated by 15 percent, according to the study, of developing the changes. The condition is called proliferative benign breast disease.

Led by Dr. Graham Colditz from the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the study showed that consuming alcohol in late adolescence increased the risk of developing benign changes in the breast that lead to cancer.

Colditz explained that though the risks are significant, the information gained by the study provides an opportunity for young women to change. The findings are published in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The American Cancer Society says that there is an increased risk of breast cancer for those who consume alcohol. Women who consume between two and five drinks per day increase their risk for breast cancer 1.5 times, compared with those who do not consume alcohol.

The researchers sought to examine whether introducing foalte levels that are high might reduce the risk of developing cancer among women who consume alcohol. The trial was introduced because alcohol is believed to make folate unavailable to the body. Folate is important for healthy sustaining of DNA.

The research team examined information collected in the Nurses’ Health Study II, which included information about women’s folate and alcohol and consumption. The researchers gathered data about alcohol consumption between the ages of 18 and 22.

The analysis revealed that folate intake did not affect the development of benign breast disease, yet alcohol consumption did have an impact. The researchers discovered that among 659 instances of benign breast disease, the greater amount of alcohol a female consumed, the greater chance she had of developing the changes in the breast associated with benign breast disease.

The findings show that alcohol consumed during early adulthood can have an important influence on the development of breast disease. While not everyone who has benign breast disease eventually develops cancer, it is a significant risk factor for the cancer.

The findings also highlight the importance of choices made during late adolescence and early adulthood. Early alcohol consumption can have a significant impact on later health.

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