Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and moms-to-be! Motherhood definitely changes your life in many ways — physically, emotionally, mentally. But did you know becoming a mother can affect your risk of breast cancer, too? Being a mother may reduce 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 — the age at which you have your first child. 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. However, having children at a younger age — and having more children — can lower your risk of breast cancer. Conversely, waiting to have children until after age 30 or not having children may increase your risk.
Another 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 doctor or a lactation consultant for help on making nursing work for you.
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 very small risk increase and it goes down over time. There are other forms of birth control that may also work for you, if you are worried about your risk. Speak with your OB-GYN doctor or primary care physician if you have questions. For more information, visit the National Cancer Institute website.
At any time in your life, it’s important to be aware of your breast health. Changes to your breasts are normal and common before and after pregnancy, but if you notice anything 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.
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