There is no shortage of good reasons to discourage underage kids from drinking alcohol. Besides being illegal, teen drinking is dangerous and often leads to risky behavior. Research has indicated that early exposure to alcohol can impact brain development and increase the risk of addiction. Underage drinking is responsible for thousands of deaths each year and increases the risk of suicide in teens. The list goes on and on.
But if all that doesn’t convince your young daughter to abstain, perhaps this will: Underage drinking can mess up her breasts.
As part of Harvard Medical School’s “Growing Up Today” study, researchers found that regular alcohol consumption by teen and adolescent girls may increase their risk of developing benign breast disease in their 20′s. Benign may mean non-cancerous and therefore non-deadly, but these lumps, bumps and cysts are known risk factors for breast cancer.
The study, published in the May issue of Pediatrics, was conducted from 1996 to 2007. The results revealed that girls aged 9 to 15 who consumed alcohol six to seven days per week were at least five times more likely to develop benign breast disease than those who didn’t drink at all. Even those who drank less – three to five days per week – had three times the risk.
Though scientists haven’t determined exactly why teen drinking increases a girl’s risk of breast disease, they suspect it has something to do with estrogen and the impact that alcohol may have on production.
Often times, when parents discuss alcohol with their kids, the focus is on drunk driving and other risky behaviors. But studies like this show that even if your teen is drinking safely at home under your watchful eye, she is still engaging in risky behavior that may have serious consequences down the line.
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