Menopause and Breast Cancer

October 27, 2022.

The menopause transition can be a scary and uncertain time in life. Women can experience physical changes, emotional changes and even lifestyle changes. The last thing women want to worry about is their risk for cancer. Even though menopause doesn’t directly cause breast cancer, there are associated risk factors related to menopause.

Menopause and Breast Cancer

The first and  most obvious risk factor is age. Typically, woman enter menopause after age 40, with 51 years old being the average age. Only about 4% of breast cancer are diagnosed in women less than 40 years old. And it increases significantly until about age 70. It is recommended for women ages 45-54 to get mammograms every year, and every 2 years after age 55, continuing until age 75.

Late Start of Menopause and Early Onset of Menstruation – is there a risk?

The later a woman enters menopause may also increase their risk for breast cancer. With Increased number of ovulations they experience and increased amount of estrogen. Your breasts are exposed to estrogen during each menstrual cycle. Same goes for women who start menstruating early, or before 12 years of age.

Lifestyle Interventions You Should Consider

Since we can’t avoid getting older and the menopause transition, what can women do to stay healthy and help prevent cancer? Quit smoking. This may be obvious for lung cancer prevention and other lung diseases. But women who currently smoke and have smoked for greater than 10 years have a 10% increased risk for breast cancer. Smoking also increases your risk of dying from breast cancer and increases the chance of the cancer coming back. Same goes for alcohol use. Alcohol increases the amount of estrogen released into the body. Women looking to reduce their risk for breast cancer should either cut back or eliminate their alcohol consumption.

There are other easy things you can do to optimize your health and help prevent breast cancers. Back to the basics; eating healthy and maintaining a healthy weight. This is true for breast cancer and most other cancers.

Final Word on Menopause and Breast Cancer

Even though menopause might not be directly linked with breast cancer, there is an indirect correlation. This can be a good time to assess your risk for cancer. Menopause is a good reminder to start your yearly mammograms and other cancer screenings. Take a step back and reevaluate your overall health. Assess your diet and weight management, add extra physical activities if that is where you are lacking.

Menopause shouldn’t be a scary time, but a time to restart and refresh. Even though there are a lot of changes, use these changes to get out of bad habits and increase your quality of life. Breast cancer isn’t always preventable but there are some things we can do to increase our overall health and prevent a lot of troublesome diseases.

Lambrindoudaki, I. Nov 12, 2020. Case Rep Womens Health. DOI: 10.10161j.crwh.2020.e00270

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of Medicine, Athens, Greece.

American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2020. Atlanta, Georgia. American Cancer Society 2020.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol and Public Health: Frequently Asked Questions. 2020. Oct 20, 2022.

Collaborative Group on hormonal factors in breast cancer type and timing of menopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer risk. Individual participant meta-analysis of the worldwide epidemiological evidence. Lancet, 2019. DOI: 10.1016.31709x.

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.

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Haley Christensen RN
I am Haley Christensen, I have been a nurse for over 12 years and worked in healthcare for over 15. I live near Salt Lake City Utah and live spending time outdoors with my theee kids.

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