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Don’t Do This: It Raises Your Breast Cancer Risk by 34%

By on August 30, 2013
For some women, it’s a ritual: Sipping on a glass of red wine after a hard day at work or school. But what seems like a fun way to relax may actually raise their risk of breast cancer, according to researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.

“We recommend that women of all ages reduce their alcohol intake in order to help prevent breast cancer,” says Richard Francis, who heads research at the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Center. “Regularly drinking is also associated with a range of other health problems, so we’d urge anyone wanting advice or support on cutting down on alcohol to speak with their doctor.”

The study, which examined the drinking habits of women during their teen years, discovered something shocking: Those who drank just one glass of wine a day during their teens were 34 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. Researchers believe even moderate levels of alcohol affect breast tissue adversely–even more so during the stages when breast tissue is still developing.

Drinking alcohol also increases estrogen production, which can accelerate the growth of breast cancer tumors.

Case in point: Even moderate drinking isn’t safe in your teens.

Wine and Cancer: The Study in Detail

Though researchers have known that alcohol raises a woman’s breast cancer risk, how quickly it affects women wasn’t known–at least until this study.

To find out, researchers recruited over 116,000 women between the ages of 25 and 44 to quiz them about their alcohol intake, from the ages of 15 to 30. Researchers also asked them about their first periods and if they had already been pregnant.

After evaluating the data, researchers discovered that women who drank at least a glass of wine a day between the time they had their first period and became pregnant faced around a 34 percent risk of breast cancer.

“The risk increased by 11 percent for every 10 grams a day of intake, about six drinks per week,” says Dr. Ying Liu, author of the study and instructor of public health sciences at the Washington University School of Medicine. “These risk values were estimated as compared with nondrinkers. One drink was defined as one bottle or can of beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine or a shot of liquor.”

And, unfortunately, the biggest finding isn’t good if you’re a wino: The more you drink, the more you put yourself at risk. That’s bad news if you’re a woman–especially if you haven’t had your first kid yet.

So Should You Quit?

While drinking a glass of wine has been correlated with improved health effects in the past, research now says sipping up isn’t the best strategy–so should you just quit?

“Breast tissues are particularly susceptible to environmental exposures between [the onset of menstruation] and first pregnancy because they undergo rapid cellular proliferation,” says Liu. “[All women] should reduce their drinking to less than one drink a day, especially before first pregnancy, to reduce their breast cancer risk.”

Case in point? Drop the booze and pick up something healthier instead, such as organic fruit juice.

Readers: Do you drink wine regularly? Why or why not?

Sources:
Drinking Before First Pregnancy Raises Breast Cancer RiskUSNews.com
Drinking in Your Teens Raises Breast Cancer Risk – DailyMail.co.uk

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