What's the Deal with Breast Cancer and Menopause?

'Tis Breast Cancer Awareness month, so remember the ladies...

Hey, Pausers! It’s also Menopause Awareness Month so of course, we’re kicking it all off with a giveaway. Scroll down for your chance to win a bit of mindfulness!

We all worry about breast cancer. After all, it’s in our DNA to worry ­— and to get breast cancer. That’s because being a woman is the main risk factor for it to occur.

Our risk increases as we age: About 95 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year are over age 40, with about half of aged 61 and older.

But there’s another factor in the mix here — isn’t there always? — and it has to do with the age you enter menopause.

Experts say if you start menopause north of age 55, your risk of breast cancer is increased — probably because you’ve had a longer exposure to estrogen. During your menstrual cycle, estrogen can stimulate breast tissue, which can be even more of an issue during menopause. A higher lifetime exposure to estrogen may increase breast cancer risk since about 80 percent of breast cancers grow in response to the hormone estrogen.

Psst…We wrote about the hormone connection in a past Pause. You can find it here.

What else ups our risk for breast cancer?

  • Family history

  • Never having had children

  • Having a first child after age 30

  • Being overweight or obese after menopause

  • Genetic mutations (like BRCA1 or BRCA2)

  • Starting menstruation before age 12

  • Having a first child after age 30

  • A history of ovarian, uterine or colon cancer

  • Hormone replacement therapy (risks vary according to how long you take it and the type you take.)

You Must Remember This…

With so many risk factors at play, here’s your best move: Get thee to your mammogram! It’s the best way to find breast cancer in its early stages when it’s usually most treatable.

Proof: Regular mammograms reduce breast cancer deaths by up to 48 percent for women between the ages of 40 and 79, according to some estimates.

Photo by Monika Kozub on Unsplash

How often should you get screened?

Recommendations vary…

The American Cancer Society says: Women between 40 and 44 should have a choice to begin annual screening mammograms. If you’re between ages 45 and 54, have one annually. Women 55 and older are advised to continue getting them every one to two years.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says: Women between 50 and 74 should get a mammogram every two years. No screening is recommended after age 74. Screening prior to age 50 should be a personal decision.

ThePause says: Examine your individual risk factors. Have a conversation with your doc about when you should begin screening. In some cases, your doctor might recommend starting earlier than age 40. (Jennifer’s did.)

Next week we’ll feature the factors to focus on — and fight!

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For a Pause

  1. Giveaway Alert! If all of these risks and recommendations are making your head hurt, practice one of the (many) lessons from My Pocket Meditations for Anxiety: Anytime Exercises to Reduce Stress, Ease Worry, and Invite Calm. “Tell your body you are safe. Breathe deeply and repeat the mantra, ‘I am safe.’ Hold onto the feeling of safety in your memory and send the energy to anywhere you feel unsafe in your body.” It helps in a pandemic, too. Want to learn its other valuable lessons? Leave us a comment below to share your favorite place to meditate and you will be entered to win a copy!

  2. We can still be hot but it’s no fun to be steaming under the covers. Keep cool and carry on with your slumber with this comforter from Slumber Cloud. We like the look of it but haven’t tried it ourselves. Let us know if you do — and what you think!

  3. What do Angelina Jolie, Joan Lunden, Sheryl Crow and Sheryl Kraft have in common? We’ve all had breast cancer and are still going strong.

  4. There are a lot of important breast cancer charities to consider supporting this month and year-round, but one you might not know is SHARE, which offers support to women facing breast, ovarian or uterine cancer. If you need support, call their national helpline at 844-ASK-SHARE.

One More Thing

Survivors rock.

When it comes to safe hellos, Joan Lunden and Sheryl have always been ahead of the curve!

All I wanna do is have some fun
I got a feeling I'm not the only one

All I Wanna Do, Sheryl Crow

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