Being that this is breast cancer awareness month I thought it would be interesting to talk about pregnancy and breast cancer prevention. Yes, that’s right there are several studies out there that show pregnancy reduces a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer later in life. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is currently funding research that may lead to discoveries that identify ways to mimic pregnancy’s protective effects and translate them into effective prevention strategies. There are several pregnancy – related factors that reduce a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer later in life.
Pregnancy before age 30 and breastfeeding reduces a woman’s total number of lifetime menstrual cycles, which is thought to be one reason they help lower your risk. The hormone estrogen fuels 80% of all breast cancers. Since pregnancy and lactation reduce your estrogen levels, your risk is decreased each time you are pregnant and while you are nursing your baby.
How Does Pregnancy Help Prevent Breast Cancer?
Breasts are developing during puberty, when hormone levels are changing rapidly and body-wide maturation is taking place. Breast tissue cells reach complete maturity after a full-term pregnancy. Your breasts are immature from your first menstrual cycle to your first pregnancy. Researcher Irma Russo, MD, of Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia believes that limiting the time that breast cells are immature offers the best protection against cancerous changes. A hormone produced during pregnancy, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), causes breast cells to mature, and protects against future cancer development. The pregnancy hormone hCG actually causes permanent genetic changes in your mammary glands, and these genetic changes can help prevent breast cancer.
This is great news in the fight against breast cancer and we will take all of the help we can get. So ladies, although pregnancy and breastfeeding might make are boobs a little less perky it also gives us a little lift in protection for not losing them altogether.