A Message for Moms About Breast Cancer Risks

Friday, May 9, 2014 - 4:06pm
Assistant Professor of Oncology Breast Surgery Division, Department of Surgical Oncology

Motherhood changes your life—physically, emotionally, mentally. But did you know becoming a mother can have an impact on your risk of breast cancer, too? Being a mother can decrease your risk!  This Mother’s Day, take some time to understand your risk level and share this with the moms in your life.

There are a number of factors associated with motherhood that can affect your chances of developing breast cancer. First is the risk factor that women hear about most often—age. Of course, the age you choose to have children is something you must consider carefully based on your own needs and those of your family.  Giving birth before the age of 20 and having additional children can lower your risk of breast cancer. Waiting to have children until after age 30, or having no children, may increase your risk. 

Next, a consideration for new moms: breastfeeding. Choosing to breastfeed for one to two years may lower your risk of breast cancer. Breastfeeding offers many other benefits for mother and baby, so talk with your pediatrician, OB/GYN or a lactation consultant for tips and help on making nursing work for you.

Many women want to know—what about birth control? Some studies show that taking hormonal birth control pills may slightly increase your risk of breast cancer. However, it’s a small increase in risk and it goes down over time.  For more information, visit the National Cancer Institute’s website.

As with any time in a woman’s life, it’s important to be aware of your breast health during and after pregnancy. Changes to your breasts are normal and common during this time, but if you notice anything that seems out of the ordinary, discuss it with your doctor. While pregnancy-associated breast cancer is not very common, (approximately one case per 3,000 births) it is a very serious health condition.

We’re here at Roswell Park to assist you with any concerns about your breast health. Learn more about the Breast Cancer Care Center or contact us today.