Cancer Risk Factors:-
After those deaths, cancer associations began to recommend that women at risk of breast cancer during menopause get regular mammograms. A link between postmenopausal breast cancer and pregnancy has been observed in a number of studies. These studies, though, were always correlational – and at the time, no definitive link was identified.
That changed in 2007 when a large epidemiological study concluded that women who had regular menstrual cycles, breast exams and healthy diets were less likely to have breast cancer than those who had irregular cycles, did not get regular breast exams and had less healthy diets.
A separate study showed that women who had a greater risk of breast cancer during their menstrual cycle were also at higher risk of breast cancer after their menstrual cycle ended.
When the risk factors were examined according to women’s age at diagnosis, postmenopausal breast cancer remained associated with menopause.
This made sense. Women typically begin menstruating at about age 12 or 13. If they get regular breast exams, breast exams that do not include mammograms are usually done between age 30 and 40. During that time, women typically become pregnant for the first time, and their breast cancer risk might be at its lowest. Then, as they reach their late 40s, breast cancer starts to show up in more women, and they begin getting regular mammograms.
Those two factors would be good reasons for a woman to get regular mammograms.
But, in 2012, the largest U.S. cancer risk assessment of postmenopausal breast cancer suggested a less critical risk factor: exercising regularly, especially vigorous exercise, would reduce breast cancer risk by about 15 percent.
No one knows whether that would be true in all women and whether it applies to younger women who begin menopause later in life, if they still have regular periods. The current recommendation to check and reduce breast cancer risk for women who have never had children would also be inaccurate for younger women who have regular periods but never got breast exams.
Researchers do not know what the age threshold is that produces the best possible risk reduction, but some say it is not before age 60.
In 2013, a paper in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that postmenopausal breast cancer risk would not be reduced by regular exercise for people younger than 45.
And that seems to be true. In 2016, researchers found that most postmenopausal women have no reduced risk from regular exercise. It is not clear whether women need to start exercising regularly before they have regular periods. But, at least for women who have never had children, research shows that exercising moderately is a good idea.
Risk factor one: Smoking
The single most important risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer has been smoking.
Studies have shown that women who have never smoked have higher breast cancer risk. But that means the same is true for women who have smoked, but have stopped. It is well known that smoking raises breast cancer risk by altering hormone levels. But, of all the risk factors in this risk factor roundup, this is the only one that has been shown to decrease risk by increasing cancer risk.
Even among women who have quit smoking, regular breast exams do not significantly reduce their risk. They still need regular mammograms. For women who smoke regularly, and have regular breast exams, the time to start to reduce their risk is before they stop smoking, but not before. The current recommendation is that, even if they quit smoking after their breast cancer diagnosis, women need to continue getting regular breast exams.
Risk factor two: Hyperglycemia
Hyperglycemia – high levels of blood sugar – can increase breast cancer risk.
That means it makes sense that, if there is any risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, it would be that because of hyperglycemia. A prospective study in 2011 reported that, for women with normal blood sugar levels at the time of their breast cancer diagnosis, smoking had no significant effect on breast cancer risk. But smoking reduced risk for women with high blood sugar levels. The risk reduction seemed to be similar to that of exercise and breast exams. But there were a number of limitations. It was not clear that the high blood sugar levels themselves caused breast cancer. Breast cancer risk decreased by about 6 percent for each five percent increase in blood sugar. That’s just a very rough estimate. The actual reduction could be less than five percent, or it could be more.
In 2013, a large trial found that an elevated blood sugar level, of 150 mg/dl or higher, which is common among postmenopausal women, did reduce breast cancer risk. But the reduction was not statistically significant.
But the effect was also small.
The authors pointed out that women who were already healthy and of normal weight were more likely to have a low blood sugar level, and a lot of women with breast cancer are of normal weight.
It may be that there are different risk factors that are more important for postmenopausal breast cancer risk, and that exercising and taking hormone therapy can help to protect postmenopausal women from breast cancer.
But again, it’s not clear.
Risk factor three: Obesity
The jury is out on whether obesity increases breast cancer risk. But if it does, that could explain why obesity does not seem to decrease breast cancer risk. Several studies have found that obesity is linked to increased breast cancer risk. Breast cancer risks are not directly related to body weight. Weight is linked indirectly because obesity can cause hormonal imbalances that make a woman more likely to develop breast cancer.
But it could be that if postmenopausal women just lost a little weight, it might reduce the risk of breast cancer.
One study found that losing weight seemed to reduce breast cancer risk. But because the study looked at a very small number of postmenopausal women, it’s not clear that losing weight directly reduces breast cancer risk.
This is one risk factor that you should take into account as a breast cancer patient. If you have had a breast cancer diagnosis, you need to weigh up the risk of breast cancer with the potential benefits of losing weight. An obvious option, which is generally very effective, is weight loss surgery.
This is a great option for people with a breast cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, there are several drawbacks. It may not be effective in some patients, such as women who already have postmenopausal breast cancer. Women who already have breast cancer are likely to be at a high risk of further breast cancer. And, according to one study, they may be more likely to develop lung cancer. The surgery also requires long-term care, which can be expensive. You may also need several appointments to see your surgeon every three months.
There are risks and benefits with this option, and the risk is higher than with most other breast cancer risk reduction options. The one thing we do know is that if you have a breast cancer diagnosis, you should reduce your risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.
If you have a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and are not taking hormones or medications that lower blood sugar levels, there are very few risk factors for breast cancer you should not try to reduce.
Read Also: Anaemia And Low Blood Pressure
Factors that may increase risk:
- Cancer of the breast
- Environmental factors
If you have a breast cancer diagnosis and already have breast cancer risk factors, you need to take that risk factor into consideration. If you have a high risk of breast cancer, including having a personal history of breast cancer and hormone deficiency, then it may be good to reduce your breast cancer risk.
But if you don’t have a personal history of breast cancer or hormone deficiency, there are several factors that you should still consider.
- Colorectal cancer
- Breast cancer risk is higher with aging.
Breast cancer risk is higher for postmenopausal women who smoke.
If breast cancer is diagnosed at a younger age, you need to keep in mind that breast cancer is more likely to cause a postmenopausal symptom.
Breast cancer increases your risk of cancer. Even if you have a breast cancer diagnosis, your risk of breast cancer rises slightly after having a baby.
Heavy breastfeeding may increase your risk of breast cancer, but it’s not clear how much risk is raised by breastfeeding.
We recommend you reduce your breast cancer risk in a number of ways, including:
- Medicating to lower blood sugar
- Reducing weight if you are overweight or obese
- Breastfeeding for at least six months
- Avoiding hormone replacement therapy
If you have a breast cancer diagnosis, you need to keep in mind the risks and benefits of reducing your risk. You may need to follow a risk reduction plan for as long as you are taking any hormone replacement therapy, or for as long as you live with postmenopausal breast cancer. It is also very important that you understand all of the possible risks associated with reducing your breast cancer risk. Breast cancer treatment may cause complications, even after breast cancer treatment has been fully investigated. Because breast cancer treatment can cause breast cancer to come back, breast cancer treatment may increase your risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.