Among teen girls and young women, more frequent alcohol consumption and greater
quantity consumed is associated with a higher risk of benign breast disease
(BBD) in young adulthood, according to research published online April 12 in
Pediatrics, which also featured a policy statement from the American
Academy of Pediatrics with recommendations for pediatricians regarding alcohol
use in youths.
In the study, Catherine S. Berkey, of the Brigham and Women's Hospital and
Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 6,899 teens
and young women in a prospective cohort study. In a 2003 survey — at ages 16 to
23 — they gave information about their alcohol use in the previous year. On
surveys in 2005 and 2007, they reported if they'd been diagnosed with BBD.
Quantity of alcohol consumed was linked to increased risk of biopsy-confirmed
BBD (odds ratio, 1.50 per drink per day), and those who drank six or seven days
a week had higher risk (odds ratio, 5.50) compared to those who never or seldom
Young girls who drank alcohol three times a week were found to have three
times the risk of developing breast disease that can lead to breast
cancer. Increased drinking – 6 to 7 days a week -boosted the risk five and
half times. Binge drinking was also linked to breast disease in the study.
In the policy statement, the authors recommend that health care providers who
work with youths become knowledgeable about substance abuse; obtain family
medical and social histories related to substance use; recognize risk factors
for alcohol and other drug use in youths; screen for current alcohol and drug
use; intervene as appropriate; and encourage parents to strive to prevent
underage drinking and substance abuse.