Women who drink alcohol during pregnancy may put their daughters at a higher risk of breast cancer, according to researchers at Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center. Their findings were reported at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Cancer Prevention meeting in Boston.
"Previous studies have shown a strong link between alcohol consumption and increased breast cancer risk, and this may be caused by alcohol increasing levels of circulating estrogen," said Anna Cabanes, PhD, instructor of oncology and lead author of the paper presented at the AACR meeting. "Our study shows that alcohol consumption during pregnancy is likely to increase not just the mothers breast cancer risk, but her daughters as well."
Hilakivi-Clarke and her colleague found that female rats exposed to alcohol in utero developed breast tumors at a significantly higher rate; their study also showed that the female offspring had higher breast density, and more estrogen receptors--both of which have been linked to higher breast cancer risk in humans. Rat mothers consuming alcohol during pregnancy had higher circulating estrogen levels, and high in utero estrogen levels have been linked to increased breast cancer risk both in humans and rats. The findings in the laboratory animals may be similar to what humans would experience, because the rat model used in the study mimics human breast cancer, Hilakivi-Clarke said.
Beth Porter | EurekAlert!
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