Yongjiet Via Flickr

Yongjiet Via Flickr

We are all scared stiff of cancer. Come to think of it, who wouldn’t be scared?

You can spend a lifetime of towing the line, living healthy, doing everything you should be doing and staying away from the vices and BAM cancer hits!

For us girls, breast cancer is the worst of them.

There is a lot of information out there about breast cancer but almost an equal volume of mis-information.

The goal here is to give you a concise risk assessment tool for breast cancer.

So here are 5 things to keep in mind when trying to evaluate your risk for developing breast cancer .

1. There is a genetic component

Breast cancer in first degree relatives like your mom, sister or even aunt or grandmother increases your risk for developing breast cancer. The risk is more if the first degree relative developed cancer before age 50.

2. There is a gestational component

During pregnancy the primary female hormone, estrogen is pared down and it’s rival, progesterone revs up to help keep the pregnancy going. You can say estrogen makes us girls while progesterone makes us moms.

The more exposure you have to estrogen, the higher your risk for developing breast cancer. Those nine months of pregnancy gives you a nice estrogen break.

3. There is a lactational component

The estrogen-progesterone see-saw continues while you nurse further extending your estrogen holiday and lowering your breast cancer risk. Nursing for 6-12 months for each child is a good idea if you can.

4. There is a dietary component

The western diet is high in fat and carbohydrates and lead to weight gain. Weight gain means more fat cells under the skin. Those fat cells happen to be good at churning out estrogen so the more fat cells you have, the more estrogen you make.

The more estrogen you make, the higher the risk of developing breast cancer.

5. There is an hormonal component

Almost sounding like a broken gramophone at this point but more estrogen equals a higher risk for developing breast cancer. Menopause brings a natural end to your ovaries’ production of estrogen.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) resets that process. Let’s just say that don’t be first in line for hormone replacement therapy be it “natural” or “bio-identical”.

So enjoy your pregnancy, nurse your baby if you can and savor those hot flashes to reduce your breast cancer risk.


About the author

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Dr. Bola

Family physician. Works for the "man" by day, wife & mom 24/7.
Loves the work of translating "medicalese" to plain english.


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