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Family History, Alcohol Tied to Benign Breast Disease Risk

Consuming seven alcoholic drinks per week more than doubled risk for those with family history

MONDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Consumption of seven alcoholic drinks per week during adolescence more than doubles the risk for benign breast disease (BBD) for those with a family history of breast cancer (BC) or BBD, according to a study published online Nov. 14 in Cancer.

Catherine S. Berkey, Sc.D., from the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues investigated the childhood/adolescent risk factors for BBD and the potential association between risk factors and family history of BC. Participants (aged 9 to 15 years in 1996) provided information on alcohol, menarche, height, and body mass index (BMI) through annual questionnaires during 1996 to 2001, and then in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Of the 6,888 women (aged 18 to 27 years) who completed the 2005 to 2007 surveys, 67 and 6,741 reported being positive or negative for BBD, respectively. Participants' mothers provided information on their BBD and BC status, and their mothers and sisters' BC status.

The investigators found that young women whose mothers or aunts had BC and those with maternal BBD were more likely to be diagnosed with BBD (odds ratio [OR], 2.34 and 1.59, respectively). Adolescents with BC family history or with maternal BBD who consumed more than seven alcoholic drinks per week had significantly elevated BBD (OR, 2.28 and 1.96, respectively). Higher peak height growth velocity was associated with elevated BBD risk for girls whose mother or aunt had BC (OR, 1.82). For girls with no family history, childhood BMI, adolescent waist circumference, and adult height were associated with BBD risk.

"Adolescents with family history may reduce their risk by avoiding alcohol," the authors write.

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