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Baby planning: Breast Cancer Risk to Career Women

This article is an interesting read...although dates to a few years ago, it is still an eye opener which is why it is still here.

Career women were warned last night that delaying motherhood could increase the risk of breast cancer. Experts say those who put off starting a family until their mid to late-thirties or even forties may face a greater threat due to hormonal changes caused by childbearing.
The warning came as figures showed that breast cancer has outstripped lung cancer to become the most common form of the disease in Britain for the first time.

According to the latest statistics, from the Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund 39,500 women are found to have breast cancer every year.
Lung cancer is diagnosed in 38,900 men and women, but the gap between the two forms of the disease is expected to widen as breast cancer continues its spread. Rates have leapt by 20 per cent in a decade - coinciding with a trend towards later motherhood.
In 1981, the average age for giving birth was just under 27. Today, it is just over 30.
A growing number of women, including well-known figures such as Cherie Blair and Madonna, are having children in their forties.
In 1981, out of nearly 635,000 births, 41,000 were to women agred 35 or over and 7,000 to women of 40 or more.
In 1996, out of nearly 650,000 births, 82,000 were to women 35 or over and 12,000 to women of 40 or more.

Richard Sullivan, head of clinical programs at the Cancer Research Campaign said: 'Women are more likely to be pursuing their careers and put off having children until later in life. This could produce oestrogenic changes which affect their chances of developing the disease.'

The link between a career and breast cancer appears to be further borne out by the latest statistics which reveal a North-South 'cancer divide'.
Women from the affluent southern regions - who are more likely to pursue careers - have a higher breast cancer risk than their northern counterparts.

Doctors said the huge rise in cases of breast cancer could also be related to improved screening - as more cancers are being detected.
Britain's obesity epidemic may also be putting women at greater risk, particularly if they have gone through the menopause, according to experts.
Professor Gordon McVie, director general of the Cancer Research Campaign said: 'There is a lot of data on the links between oestrogen and breast cancer. In some forms of the disease, it makes the tumour develop faster. It may be that breast cells in older women cannot respond in a normal way to the high oestrogen levels during pregnancy. I wish I could offer a magic formula for preventing breast cancer but unfortunately there isn't one. However, by being breast aware and going for screening, it is more likely that the disease will be detected early, when there is a 90 per cent chance of survival.'

Despite the rise in cases, experts from the two charities say the falling death rate from breast cancer over the last decade is 'hugely encouraging'.

A total of 13,000 women are dying of breast cancer every year in Britain, but the death rates have tumbled by upto 30 per cent in the last ten years.

In comparison, survival rates for lung cancer are still desperately low, with around 37,000 Britons dying of the disease every year. Doctors say the improved survival rate for breast cancer is due to early treatment - thanks to screening - and to more sophisticated drugs and therapies, such as Tamoxifen and the anti-cancer drugs Taxol and Taxotere, made from yew tree bark.

Sir Paul Nurse, director-general of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund said: 'The good news is that, despite the increase in the number of new breast cancer cases, survival rates continue to improve and over 70 per cent of women are now successfully treated.'

Delyth Morgan, chief executive of the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer said the increased risk of developing breast cancer was a 'huge concern for women, adding: 'The figures are staggering and confirm what women have worried about for years. While there is good news about falling death rates and increased chances of survival, breast cancer is women's number one health concern and the truth is we do not know what to do to prevent it.'

'We need to be able to give reliable prevention advice to women and the sad fact is we cannot do that yet, because the science is not there, and it may not be there for some time.'

Source: Daily Mail, Monday, November 5, 2001




               

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