Alcohol intake in adolescence and mammographic density

Celine M. Vachon, Thomas A. Sellers, Carol A. Janney, Kathleen R. Brandt, Erin E. Carlson, Vernon S. Pankratz, Fang Fang Wu, Terry M. Therneau, James R. Cerhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Adolescent exposures may be important in the development of breast cancer later in life. We examined the association of adolescent alcohol consumption and adult mammographic density, a strong risk factor for breast cancer. Women within the Minnesota Breast Cancer Family Cohort with detailed mammogram and risk factor information (n = 1,893) formed our sample. Breast cancer cases were excluded. Adolescent alcohol consumption (before age 18) was solicited through a mailed questionnaire. Percent density (PD) was estimated using the computer-assisted thresholding program, Cumulus. Statistical analyses were performed using linear mixed effect models. Women who reported ever drinking alcohol before age 18 (n = 390; 21%) had a higher unadjusted PD than women who never drank during adolescence (μunadj = 26.5% vs. 22.2%), but this difference disappeared with adjustment for risk factors for mammographic density (μadj = 21.0% vs. 21.2%, p = 0.94). Adult PD was not associated with age at initiation, amount of alcohol consumed at one sitting or frequency of alcohol use before age 18. The lack of differences was seen across strata of menopausal status. There was suggestion of higher PD among heavy and more frequent drinkers (24.0%, 95% CI 21.1-26.8%) compared to lighter (21.3%, 95% CI 20.3-22.3%) and never drinkers (21.4%, 95% CI 20.9-21.9%) and also among regular adolescent drinkers who were daily or weekly adult drinkers (25.0%, 95% CI 23.0-27.0%) compared to less regular drinkers in these 2 time periods (23.0-23.4%). However, these associations were not statistically significant (p = 0.27 and n = 0.22, respectively). In summary, there was no evidence that adolescent alcohol use was associated with large and persistent effects on adult PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)837-841
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 10 2005


  • Adolescent alcohol
  • Breast cancer
  • Mammographic density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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