Young female drinkers have higher risk of developing breast cancer

Peter Terlato 24 October 2016

breast cancer test young woman doctor

Developing breast tissue is more vulnerable to carcinogens in alcohol.

Women who drink prior to their first pregnancy have a 1 in 7 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer later in life, a new study suggests.

Research conducted by Cancer Council Victoria found further evidence which links alcohol consumption with cancer, revealing young women who drank between the age of 15 and their first pregnancy had a 35% greater chance of developing breast cancer, compared with those who don't drink.

The study analysed the alcohol intake of 13,630 women who had their first pregnancy at age 20 or later.

Researchers surmised that between the first occurrence of menstruation (menarche) and first pregnancy, the developing breast tissue is more vulnerable to carcinogens in alcohol.

Other studies show pregnancy makes the breast tissue less susceptible to carcinogens and toxins found in alcoholic beverages, reducing a woman's risk of contracting cancer.

Alcohol consumption is linked with 3,200 cases of mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver, bowel and female breast cancer in Australia each year.

New studies have revealed Australians suffering from lymphoma, a deadly form of cancer affecting the body's immune system, suffer the highest levels of financial stress in the world.

And while alcohol consumption can be linked to breast cancer, repeated studies show mobile phones don't increase the risk of developing brain cancer.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper says cutting back on alcohol consumption throughout life will reduce the risk of all cancer development.

"This study is a reminder that everyone who chooses to drink alcohol should limit their alcohol consumption during early adulthood and throughout life," he said.

"Drinking less alcohol will reduce your risk of cancer."

October is breast cancer awareness month in Australia. Breast cancer remains the most common cancer among Australian women. Survival rates continue to improve in Australia with 89 out of every 100 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer now surviving five or more years beyond diagnosis.

For more information or to learn some handy tips for drinking less visit Cancer Council Victoria's website.

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