Most of us know that a glass of wine each day after work can be good for our overall health, but young women should consider going easy on the alcohol until after they’ve had a baby. Why? Because women who drink regularly before their first pregnancy could be increasing their risk of developing breast cancer, according to findings published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and reported by The New York Times.

For the study, researchers reviewed 20 years of data from more than 150,000 women across the United States. Scientists found that women who had no earlier history of breast cancer and no previous pregnancies but who drank 10 grams of alcohol (one small drink) or more at least six times a week showed an increased risk of developing breast cancer of nearly 11 percent.

What’s more, findings also showed that regular drinkers were also 16 percent more likely to develop proliferative benign breast disease (a.k.a. BBD), a noncancerous abnormality that can increase a woman’s overall risk of the disease over time.

In addition, researchers also found a stronger association of breast cancer risk among women who drank larger quantities of alcohol and experienced a lengthy amount of time between their first period and first pregnancy.

“Limiting alcohol can pay off through reduced breast cancer risk,” said Graham A. Colditz, MD, DrPH, a professor of surgery at Washington University in St. Louis and a study coauthor.

Colditz and other experts said the period of time between a woman’s first menstrual cycle (called menarche) and her first pregnancy is particularly important in setting future cancer risk because breast tissue is particularly susceptible to carcinogens at this time.

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