New research from the Washington University School of Medicine found that women who drink alcohol in the years between their first menstrual cycle and first pregnancy are at an increased risk of breast cancer.
Researchers looked at information of about 91,000 women between the ages of 25 and 42 and examined their oral contraceptive use, diet and lifestyle risk factors. According to the results, for each six drinks per week a woman has between her first menstrual period and pregnancy, her chance of breast cancer and benign breast disease rose by 11 and 16 percent, respectively.
The study showed that the risk of breast cancer increased in women regardless of their drinking habits after the first pregnancy. However, the link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer seems to be much smaller after giving birth.
Reasons for the connection
According to the study, the reason the risk for breast cancer increases is due to breast tissue being more vulnerable to toxins during these years. The risk for developing breast cancer are highest due to the rapid cellular proliferation of the tissues.
During pregnancy, breast cells' biological responses to carcinogens are reduced in pregnancy so the body is less likely to develop cancerous cells from toxins. Also, the genes for the immune system are given a boost while tissue growth is reduced during pregnancy.
Even waiting to get pregnant can significantly increase your risk of breast cancer. The study found that non-drinkers who waited at least 10 years after their first period to have children saw a 26 percent increase in breast cancer and an 81 percent risk of benign breast disease compared to non-drinkers who didn't wait as long to have a child.
You can still enjoy a few drinks, but try to make it less than six a week. Keep in mind, however, that drinking too much alcohol can have an effect not only on your risk of breast cancer but your weight loss plan as well.
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