What teen girls do now, may effect their risk of breast cancer in the future. According to Marisa Weiss, MD, the president and founder of advocacy group Breastcancer.org and the author of several books, including Taking Care of Your Girls: A Breast Health Guide for Girls, Teens, and In-Betweens. “You are laying the foundation for your future breast health during adolescence.”
The message from a recent study is: don’t drink alcohol; it will increase your risk for benign breast disease. Benign breast disease is also known as fibrocystic breast disease. It’s not actually a disease at all, but thicker, dense breast tissue with underlying cysts that can make it more difficult to identify “normal” lumps from suspicious lumps. It also makes it challenging for mammograms to pick up any “true” changes that could be breast cancer or not.
This recent study indicated that adolescent girls who drank three to five days per week had three times the risk of developing benign breast disease as their counterparts who did not drink alcohol. Teens who drank more had an even greater risk of benign breast disease. These teens were 9-15 years old when the study began in 1996 and continued for about 10 years. Researchers are not sure how alcohol raises the risk for benign breast disease, but speculate that alcohol raises estrogen levels.
The take home message is for teens and college-age girls to drink less than 3 drinks per week or ideally not at all.
Benign breast disease is a common finding with PMS symptoms. For more information on how to prevent or treat benign breast problems, check out Help for PMS