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Do estrogen levels increase the risk of breast cancer? Gynaecologist explains

Do high estrogen levels increase the risk of breast cancer? Here is what Dr Suhasini Inamdar, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, has to say.

Do high estrogen levels increase the risk of breast cancer? Here is what Dr Suhasini Inamdar, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Indiranagar, Bangalore has to say.

Written by Arushi Bidhuri |Published : October 30, 2020 5:52 PM IST

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women worldwide, and the second most common cancer overall. In India, it accounts for 14 per cent of all cancers in Indian women in both rural and urban areas. Due to lack of awareness and poor early screening and diagnosis, there is a low survival rate in the country.

There are various risk factors that may lead to this deadly disease, including increasing age, family history, previous chest radiation during childhood, early mensuration, late menopause, nulliparous, post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy. Some studies have also linked high estrogen levels to breast cancer.

What is the link between estrogen levels and breast cancer?

Dr Suhasini Inamdar, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Indiranagar, Bangalore, explains the relationship between estrogen and breast cancer. "Around 60 per cent of women suffering from breast cancer are estrogen-positive or progesterone-positive. This clearly indicates the cancer cells have receptors for the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Therefore, this can certainly fuel the growth of malignant tumours," she explained.

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Estrogen is found in the ovaries and is important for the sexual development of a woman. It manages all bodily functions as well. From the first periods until menopause, this hormone stimulates normal breast cells. It is necessary to take precautions and raise awareness about the reason.

It is vital for women to follow self-awareness method. They should also be cautious of any symptoms such as lumps, pain, changes in size, skin changes, nipple changes/discharge that may be of concern. You should report to your doctor immediately in case you notice any significant changes. If your doctor finds anything suspicious, he/she will further investigate it with the help of mammography, biopsy, USG, CT scan, Bone scan, PET scan as the situation demands.

Prevention tips

Limit consumption of alcohol/tobacco smoking

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause breast cancer. Occasional drinking too must be done in moderation. Smoking and consumption of tobacco can increase the chances of breast cancer, particularly in premenopausal women.

Be physically active and maintain healthy weight

Small lifestyle changes can go a long way in keeping this deadly disease at bay. It is important to incorporate a regular exercise routine for at least 45 minutes a day. This can include brisk walking, light jogging, yoga, aerobics or even swimming. Weight management too is an important element as obesity can increase chances of breast cancer.

Breastfeeding

This plays a key role in cancer prevention. Breastfeeding for a longer duration provides a protective shield against cancer.

Limiting the duration/dose of hormone therapy

It is important to consult a doctor if you are taking hormone therapy, especially for menopausal symptoms. It is better to manage symptoms with non-hormonal therapies and medicines.

Avoiding exposure to radiation

Research suggests the correlation between cancer and medical imaging methods as they use high doses of radiation. One should undergo such things only when extremely necessary.

Healthy balanced diet

It is important to eat a healthy diet that includes a good amount of green leafy vegetables, nuts, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.

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