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The Link Between Breast Cancer and Menopause Symptoms

Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.

Risk Factors For Breast Cancer

Different cancer cells grow as a result of various risk factors, such as too much sun, which can cause the skin to form a melanoma or smoking addicts can risk developing cancer. It is not exactly known what definitive risk factors might be an attributable factor in the development of breast cancer in women. Some factors present more risks than others and the risks of breast cancer can change due to aging, disease and medications. However, the higher risk of developing breast cancer increases* as women get older. About 1 out of 8 breast cancers are found in women younger than 45, but 2 out of 3 are found in women 55 and older.

Breast Cancer Environment

A woman’s breasts are made up of fatty tissues, glandular tissues, and fibrous tissues. Many women who go through changes and sensations in their breasts, are experiencing fluctuations in their hormone levels. Doctors inform menopausal women, that breast sensitivity can be used to determine their progesterone levels, because if a woman’s breasts are swollen, it is a sign that they are experiencing an imbalance of hormone levels, where they are getting too much estrogen and is no longer producing* progesterone to counteract estrogen levels. Menopause often brings more than “normal” physical changes, like hair loss, fingernail changes, vaginal dryness, osteoporosis, and more. It also causes a greater chance of developing cancer. Starting menopause after 55 years of age, increases* a woman’s chances of breast cancer, because she is in the throes of menopause and changing estrogen levels, which stimulates the breast tissues. However, please note that a sensitive or tender breast is usually nothing more than hormone changes and it will subside as you go through menopause.

BMI Cause of Breast Cancer

Due to varied menopausal symptoms that accompany menopause, further including anxiety, depression, and mood swings, the main culprit that has a link between breast cancer and menopause symptoms, is excessive weight gain. Body weight, or BMI (body mass index) has been linked to breast cancer. A woman’s hormones have an impact of their fat storage cells, their metabolism levels, and their appetite. Therefore, women shouldn’t blame themselves for eating too much because controlling your weight during menopause is nearly a losing battle, especially when your body’s estrogen, testosterone, and androgen levels are fighting you. A woman’s body shape (from pear to round) may also affect breast cancer risk. It is purported that some women who put on extra pounds around their middle has a slight to moderate risk of developing breast cancer. Further studies, however, have reported that peri-menopause weight gain decreases* breast cancer risks, however, during and after menopause, being overweight, even obese, can drastically increase* the risk of breast cancer. Also, if women gain weight gradually, as they age, the breast cancer risk factors rises. Another breast cancer factor, includes the fact that most women, age 50+ and who discover they have breast cancer, have been experiencing existing menopause.

Percentage and Weight Gain Factors

Estrogen is produced by the body as a natural hormone and it is created in the ovaries of pre-menopausal women and is produced mainly in the fat tissues of postmenopausal women. Higher amounts of estrogen in the blood are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Fat tissues contain an enzyme called “aromatase,” which changes androgen hormones, and which is produced in the adrenal glands. So the more weight that a woman gains, the higher blood estrogen levels become. Women who have gained a large amount of weight overall, not just around the abdomen and waist, definitely have an increased chance of breast cancer. The latest studies show that women who gained about 20 pounds after 18 years of age have a 15% risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Women who gained 55 pounds or more after 18 had a 45% higher risk of breast cancer. However, women who lost weight during and after menopause experienced a lower risk of breast cancer. Women who lose* weight are greatly advantaged in the prevention of breast cancer, if it is around four to 11 pounds, which is a 20% lower risk.

MHT As a Possible Breast Cancer Agent

Another hot topic for the formation of breast cancer risk factors is “menopausal hormone therapy.” Menopausal hormone therapy is a treatment that is used for women to help relieve annoying symptoms of menopause and to prevent other biological changes, like bone loss due to the reduction* of estrogen and progesterone. Purportedly, women who took menopausal hormone therapy consisting of estrogen plus progestin, were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer was increased in these group of women only because it was due to the length of time that they took the hormones. The controversy around menopausal hormone therapy is based on whether these treatments are designed with synthetic hormones, or from a variety of plants, animals, or made in a lab and their chemical effect on a woman’s body.