Send to

Choose Destination
J Adolesc Health. 2019 Jan;64(1):116-123. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.07.011. Epub 2018 Oct 6.

Preventative Health and Risk Behaviors Among Adolescent Girls With and Without Family Histories of Breast Cancer.

Author information

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Electronic address:
Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple University Health, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Children's National Medical Center, Washington, District of Columbia.
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
Basser Center for BRCA, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



To compare health behaviors (smoking, alcohol use, fruit and vegetable intake, and exercise frequency) and breast self-exam (BSE) between girls with breast cancer family history (BCFH+) and without (BCFH-) and assess associates of behaviors across all girls.


A total of 208 BCFH+ girls (11-19 years old), with first- or second-degree relatives with breast cancer or a mother with a BRCA1/2 mutation, and 112 BCFH- peers reported their health behaviors, beliefs, and psychosocial function.


Despite higher BCFH+ girls' greater perceived breast cancer risk, there were no differences between BCFH+ and BCFH- girls on diet, exercise, alcohol initiation, or BSE. BCFH+ girls were slightly more likely to report trying cigarettes (11% vs. 5%, p = .04). In multivariable models with all girls, categorical associations with behaviors included the following: developmental and demographic factors with smoking, alcohol, diet, and exercise; family breast cancer history and experience with smoking, alcohol, and diet; psychosocial factors with smoking; girls perceptions of cancer controllability and mother support for health behaviors with alcohol, diet, exercise, and BSE; and mother behaviors with diet.


Adolescent girls from BCFH+ families reported similar health behaviors to BCFH- peers, signaling that they are not translating their higher perceived risk into cancer control behaviors. Both uncontrollable (i.e., breast cancer experiences) and modifiable factors relate to health behaviors and warrant further investigation. Results indicate that interventions with teens and parents that target modifiable variables such as controllability perceptions, maternal modeling, and communication may relate to better health behaviors and reduced future breast cancer risk.


Adolescent; BRCA 2 protein; BRCA1 protein; Breast neoplasms; Breast self-examination; Female; Healthy lifestyle; Maternal behavior; Mothers; Risk-taking

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center