Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mothers and breast cancer: A not so simple story

young mother
Is the breast cancer risk of mothers lower than of women who never have given birth? Yes, say some. No, say others. Who is right? Both are right and both are wrong, according to a study of the National Cancer Institute.

The solution of this enigma is timing: at age 25, breast cancer risk is lower without a birth. With every year added, the risk difference between childless women and mothers gets smaller and smaller. At age 40, things get reversed. From now on, mothers can profit from a lower risk. As a woman reading this post, beware of trying to be «smart»: It does not pay to combine a childless period in young age (smaller risk) with giving birth at fourty. Let alone the fact that children of older mothers have a higher risk of various diseases. Neither does it pay for the mother. On contrary: A younger age at first birth lowers the risk of breast cancer. Things are really not so simple.

But what counts here is the general trend of more cancer when growing older. If you are young and your risk is small anyway, then you may tolerate if it gets up a bit. But if you are old and your risk is considerable, every factor that helps to curb that risk must be very welcome. - (Picture by Our Awesome @ Flickr)

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