Girls and young women who drink alcohol during adolescence may increase their risk for benign - or noncancerous - breast disease, which can increase their chances of developing breast cancer, according to a recent study.
Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis and Harvard University studied the drinking habits of girls between the ages of 9 and 15, and monitored their health records between 1996 and 2007.
The participants who drank six or seven days each week were 5.5 times more likely to later have benign breast disease than those who abstained or had less than one drink each week.
"The study is an indication that alcohol should be limited in adolescence and early adult years and further focuses our attention on these years as key to preventing breast cancer later in life," Graham Colditz, of the Washington University School of Medicine, told the news source.
Colditz indicated that while about 80 percent of breast lumps are benign, they are sometimes a precursor to invasive breast cancer, and a marker for increased breast cancer risk.
The research may underscore the idea that preventive measures, such as a low alcohol intake, weight control, diet management, exercise and early detection can lower a woman's chance of a breast cancer diagnosis.