Alcohol: women in danger from adolescence

Alcohol consumption, even moderate, is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. This increase is particularly pronounced when women regularly drink alcohol before their first pregnancy, according to a new study.

Alcohol consumption has increased significantly over the past decades and a significant proportion of the population regularly drinks much higher amounts of alcohol. For example, 30% of men have a risky drink at least once a month (5 or more drinks on the same occasion), while 20% of women do the same (4 or more drinks in a single evening) , this proportion reaching 45% among young women aged 18 to 24. It goes without saying that these repeated “cookings” are very harmful to health, alcohol being a very toxic substance which favors the development of several cancers, in particular those of the mouth, esophagus and breast.

Alcohol increases estrogen levels in young girls

Alcohol consumption, even moderate, increases the risk of breast cancer. This increase would be caused by an increase in blood estrogen levels, which excessively stimulates the growth of breast cells and increases the risk of uncontrolled proliferation. In this sense, alcohol consumption in adolescence and early adulthood is problematic, because it is precisely during this period that breast cells proliferate most rapidly and are most likely to be affected. by changes in estrogen levels. Consequently, are young women who drink too much more at risk of developing breast cancer later in life?

The answer is yes.

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A direct relationship between alcohol and breast cancer


Researchers have determined the alcohol consumption of 91,000 women at different times in their lives (15–17, 18–22, 23–30 and 31–40 years) and determined, ten years later, the incidence of cancer within this population. They observed that for each glass (10g of alcohol) consumed daily during adolescence and entry into adulthood, that is to say between the onset of the first menstruation and the first pregnancy, was associated to a 13% increase in breast cancer and 16% in benign proliferative breast disease (lesions that significantly increase the future risk of cancer). And the greater the dose ingested, the greater the risk: a young woman who regularly drinks more than 15g of alcohol sees her risk increased by 40%! This increased risk is also more pronounced when alcohol consumption occurs over a longer period, for example when the first pregnancy occurs more than 10 years after the onset of the first menstrual period. In other words, the message could not be clearer: the higher the alcohol consumption before having children, the greater the risk of breast cancer.

It is often said that “moderation tastes better” and this adage could not be more true when it comes to the association between alcohol and breast cancer. It is important for parents to discuss openly with young girls the importance of moderate drinking to minimize their risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime.


Liu Y et al. “Alcohol intake between menarche and first pregnancy: A prospective study of breast cancer risk”. Journal of the National Cancer Institute


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