Breast Cancer Prevention - life events as risk factors

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

Because it matters where you get your information from

Breast cancer is preventable, to a great extent. Besides getting tested regularly for early detection of the disease, everyone is talking about diet and exercise. Also about natural foods and probably going vegan. We are not going to talk about those issues. We are going to discuss some other factors, we will call it life events, as risk predictors of breast cancers. By life events I mean things that have happened in your life, such as the age of first menstrual cycle (menarche), child birth, breast feeding, use of oral contraceptives, abortion and other relatable factors, which have been shown to act as risk factors through large scale epidemiological studies.

Endogenous estrogen

Higher amount of estrogen and androgen levels could be a contributing factor for developing breast cancer. Epidemiological studies have shown menstrual cycle before the age of 11 increases the risk of breast cancer. And if it happens after the age of 14, it reduces the risk of breast cancer. Along those trends, late menopause increased the risk of breast cancer. An indicator of elevated levels of estrogen can be higher amount of body hair. To identify these risk factors, you do not need a doctors visit. And it is probably a good idea by now to start a check list about all the things we are going to talk about.

Hormone Therapy

Large scale epidemiological studies have shown that postmenopausal hormone therapy was associated with increased risk of breast cancer events. Therefore it will be important to talk to your doctor about this, although hormone therapy is not as prescribed since 2003.

Early Pregnancy

Early (20 years of age or less) full term pregnancies are associated with lower risk of breast cancers. To the contrary, full term pregnancies after the age of 35 can increase the risk of breast cancer. But some of these early studies were conducted on white female population only. Not sure how this correlates with the other ethnic groups.

Breast Feeding

Twelve months or more breast feeding correlates with decreased breast cancer frequency. Also decreases further with every additional pregnancy and breast feeding.

Hormonal Contraceptives

Breast cancer risk is not increased with use of oral and injectable hormonal contraceptives or projestin implants.


Some early studies have found an elevated risk, while others did not. The Committee of Gynecologic Practice of the American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists has concluded no elevated breast cancer risk with abortion.

Underarm deodorants

Although there are label warnings about an elevated risk, because some early studies found it, there is really no scientific evidence to support the data. Those early studies did not consider the internal hormone status of the study participants.

Working Nightshifts

Recent studies have concluded that it is not a risk factor. Some previous studies concluded that the disruption of the circadian rhythm may be associated with change in the hormone levels in the body, which in turn increases the risk of breast cancer.

In conclusion, there are some life events that may be associated with higher risk of breast cancer incidences. It is better to be preemptive and check with your doctor.

The author is a scientist researching novel chemotherapeutic targets and drugs to manage chemoresistant forms and recurrent forms of cancers. Please direct any questions to

Anirban Mukherjee, PhD


Austin, Texas

12 views0 comments