Does Drinking When You're Young Increase Your Risk Of Breast Cancer?

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For women, it now appears that when we drink is as important as how we drink, at least where breast-cancer risk is concerned. A new study published online in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that drinking too much when you're young can increase your likelihood of getting breast cancer later in life.

Researchers found that, for the women in this study, drinking approximately six drinks per week before their first pregnancy increased breast cancer rates. Why does the "before pregnancy" part matter? Because as it turns out, your breast tissue is actually more susceptible to carcinogens if you've never been pregnant.

While this might make you want to reconsider that post-work cocktail — and young women should consider how their drinking impacts their overall health — it's important to remember how many other factors affect cancer rates as well. Smoking, fitness level, dietary habits, BMI, sleep, family history...all of these are extremely important. There are many ways to to take control of your health, both in the present and the future.

There's also limited data on how the type of alcohol you drink changes the effect on your health. For example, we've all heard about the supposed health benefits of drinking red wine (crash course: it's because some of the compounds found in red wines can act as antioxidants).

So, with all that in mind, here's the final takeaway: The most important way to stay healthy, heart and body, is to focus on moderation. Duh. But, too much of anything tends to affect our health adversely, and it's important to keep focused on a picture of our health in context. Incremental changes in diet, exercise, and drinking habits can pay off big time, so be in it for the long game. (The New York Times)