Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 167, Issue 2, pp 529–535 | Cite as

Alcohol consumption across the life course and mammographic density in premenopausal women

  • Ying Liu
  • Rulla M. Tamimi
  • Graham A. Colditz
  • Kimberly A. Bertrand



Consumption of alcoholic beverages during adolescence and early adulthood has been consistently associated with higher breast cancer risk. The influence of alcohol consumption early in life on mammographic breast density, a marker of breast cancer risk, is inconclusive. This study examined associations of alcohol consumption across the life course with premenopausal mammographic density.


The study population included 1211 premenopausal women in the Nurses’ Health Study II without cancer, who recalled their alcohol consumption at age 15 through enrollment in 1989 (baseline), and had mammograms available. Recent alcohol consumption was updated over follow-up. Percent and absolute measures of mammographic density were quantified on digitized film mammograms. Generalized linear regression was used to assess associations.


There were no notable differences in any of the three density measures for alcohol consumption at any age (15–17, 18–22, 23–30, and 31-mammogram). Neither alcohol consumption before first pregnancy nor after first pregnancy was significantly associated with any of the three density measures.


Moderate alcohol consumption during different age intervals during adolescence and early adulthood was not associated with mammographic density in premenopausal women.


Breast cancer Mammographic density Alcohol Adolescence 



We thank Barbara DeSouza and Divya Prithviraj for their assistance with data collection and analysis. This work was supported by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the National Cancer Institute (UM1 CA176726, R01 CA124865, R01 CA67262, and R01 CA50385), and Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. K.A.B. was supported by the Simeon J. Fortin Charitable Foundation Fellowship, Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustee. Y.L. and G.A.C. were also supported, in part, by the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri.

Author’s contributions

Study concept and design: Liu, Tamimi, and Bertrand. Acquisition of data: Tamimi and Colditz. Analysis and interpretation of data: Liu, Tamimi, Colditz, and Bertrand. Drafting of the manuscript: Liu and Bertrand. Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: Liu, Tamimi, Colditz, and Bertrand. Statistical analysis: Liu and Bertrand. Obtaining funding: Colditz and Bertrand

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Participants implied consent with the return of questionnaires. The study was approved by the Human Subjects Committees at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Supplementary material

10549_2017_4517_MOESM1_ESM.docx (35 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 34 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of SurgeryWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of EpidemiologyHarvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  5. 5.Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston UniversityBostonUSA

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