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The Complexities of Hormones, Motherhood, and Breast Cancer

By BCRF | May 14, 2017

How Does Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Affect Your Breast Cancer Risk?

While motherhood is often a complicated mix of joy and stress, some women face the added shock of a breast cancer diagnosis. Women of any age or stage of life can be diagnosed with cancer—it is not limited to the central theme of pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Hormones, particularly the female hormones estrogen and progesterone, and breast cancer have a very complex relationship. Fluctuations in female hormones happen every month throughout a woman’s reproductive years and diminish after menopause.

A woman’s lifetime exposure to hormones, typically measured in the number of menstrual cycles, is a modest risk factor for breast cancer.

However, there are many factors related to pregnancy and lactation that can reduce the risk of breast cancer. But for 1 in 3,000 women, breast cancer during or soon after pregnancy becomes a reality.

In a discussion with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), Elisa Port, MD, author of “The New Generation Breast Cancer Book” shared valuable insights on the far-reaching implications of a breast cancer diagnosis during or after pregnancy, how women can be vigilant about health, and the newest treatment options. Dr. Port is a BCRF investigator and Chief of Breast Surgery and Director of the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

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