Parents are encouraged to keep an open dialogue with their children about decisions related to drug and alcohol use. Parents should make sure that teen children understand their opinions about substance use, in addition to maintaining clearly-communicated rules and guidelines about drinking and drug use.
Parents should also discuss the risks of substance use. When it comes to drinking, the immediate and long-term risks provide ample material for conversation between parents and teens. The risk of injury and dangerous sexual behaviors, including sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies, are just two major areas that parents can talk about.
Long-term risks may seem less threatening to young people for whom middle age can appear as if it could never arrive. However, parents should be aware of the significant long-term risks that are associated with alcohol consumption and communicate them to their children.
Long-Term Risks Of Drinking
Heart disease, liver disease and certain cancers are just a few of the dangers that can appear long after a teen initiates drinking. Teen drinking is particularly a concern when it comes to these increased risks, because early initiation means that an individual exposes their body to alcohol for a longer period of time.
A recent study has added another major risk that parents should include in their conversations when discussing alcohol consumption with their teens. Research by a biostatistician at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital provides evidence that breast cancer risk may be increased by consuming alcohol in the teen years.
Why Teenage Drinking Can Increase Breast Cancer
The study’s findings appear in a recent issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Cancer Society. The research shows that consuming alcohol as a teenager could increase an individual’s risk of having breast cancer in adulthood, when that teen has a family history of breast cancer.
Led by Dr. Catherine Berkey, the research examined which factors identified in childhood and adolescence might impact the development of benign breast disease. Benign breast disease is believed to be a precursor for breast cancer. The researchers were especially interested in how these factors influenced breast cancer predictors in those respondents who had a family history of breast cancer.
Amount Of Consumed Alcohol And Family History – Variables In Breast Cancer Risk
The researchers discovered that there was a significant association identified between the amount of alcohol that was consumed during adolescence and the incidence of benign breast disease in young adulthood.
The researchers utilized information from the Growing Up Today Study, a longitudinal study that was initiated with females between the ages of 9 and 15 in 1996. The questions covered such topics as physical aspects like height, weight, and age of initial menstruation, and also asked about behaviors such as alcohol consumption.
The last two follow-up surveys, which were administered when the girls were between 18 and 27 years old, indicated that approximately 10 percent of the respondents had been diagnosed with benign breast disease. Among girls who had a mother, grandmother or aunt with breast cancer, there was a positive correlation between the amount of alcohol consumed and the likelihood of a benign breast disease diagnosis.
Educate Teens On Avoiding Alcohol Consumption
The findings highlight the importance of educating adolescents about avoiding alcohol consumption during the teen years. In addition, young women with a family history of breast cancer should be cautioned that alcohol consumption could lead to the diagnosis of benign breast disease and its relationship to breast cancer.
The information gained through the study may be helpful in the development of educational strategies created for targeting teen audiences. Young girls should be informed about their risks that may apply to them if they have a close relative who has experienced breast cancer.
Parents should also talk with their daughters in an open and honest conversation about the risks of developing breast cancer associated with alcohol consumption. A parent is the most important influential factor on a teen’s behavior and they should not miss the opportunity to talk to their teen daughter about the potential risks associated with drinking alcohol.