If you had to name one of your biggest health fears, would breast cancer be top of your list? Because according to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is diagnosed in 1 in 7 women. If you gather a small group of your girlfriends, someone is going to get it. It is real. Yet, when we talk about this concerning disease, the focus is often on detection think mammograms and treatment think mastectomies.
If You’re Diagnosed with Breast Cancer During Pregnancy
Risk Factors: Hormones - National Cancer Institute
The link between hormone replacement therapy HRT , also called menopausal hormone therapy MHT , and breast cancer isn't new. Now a new, large-scale study, published in The Lancet confirms an increased risk of breast cancer from all types of MHT except one—topical vaginal estrogens—that can persist for more than 10 years after a woman stops therapy. As women enter and sustain menopause , levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone decline. As the North American Menopause Society NAMS explains, estrogen promotes the growth and health of the female reproductive organs and keeps the vagina moisturized, elastic and stretchy, and well supplied with blood. Progesterone prepares the lining of the uterus for a fertilized egg and helps maintain early pregnancy. Many women receive synthetic hormones via pill, cream or gel, patch, or injection.
Reproductive History and Cancer Risk
Breast cancer is cancer that develops from breast tissue. Risk factors for developing breast cancer include being female, obesity , lack of physical exercise, drinking alcohol , hormone replacement therapy during menopause , ionizing radiation , early age at first menstruation , having children late or not at all, older age, prior history of breast cancer, and family history. The balance of benefits versus harms of breast cancer screening is controversial.
These factors include early onset of menstruation , late onset of menopause , and factors that may allow breast tissue to be exposed to high levels of hormones for longer periods of time, such as later age at first pregnancy and never having given birth. In addition, pregnancy and breastfeeding have direct effects on breast cells, causing them to differentiate, or mature, so they can produce milk. Some researchers hypothesize that these differentiated cells are more resistant to becoming transformed into cancer cells than cells that have not undergone differentiation 2 , 3.