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Menopause and Breast Cancer: The Facts

Did you know that undergoing breast cancer treatment can trigger early menopause in some women? Some types of treatment are designed to suppress the body’s natural oestrogen production, which can cause women to start experiencing menopause symptoms, such as hot flushes, mood swings and difficulty sleeping.

But can menopause itself raise a woman’s risk of breast cancer?

Does Menopause Increase Breast Cancer Risk?

Menopause itself is not known to increase the likelihood of a breast cancer diagnosis, but some menopause treatments have been associated with a higher risk of the disease.

This is something that TV presenter and journalist Mariella Frostrup takes a look at in the BBC1 documentary The Truth About…The Menopause, airing on Monday 26th November at 9pm.

In a clip from the programme, she is seen speaking to Professor Janice Rymer of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, who explains exactly how taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may raise a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

Professor Rymer highlights that 23 in every 1,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives, with an extra four cases per 1,000 for women taking HRT, indicating that this menopause treatment could slightly increase a woman’s breast cancer risk.

But Professor Rymer went on to explain that other lifestyle factors can also raise a woman’s chance of being diagnosed with the disease; for example, drinking more than two units of alcohol each day typically leads to an extra five diagnoses, while obesity accounts for an additional 24 cases.

Therefore, it is vital that when you’re looking for a way to manage your menopause symptoms, you take your whole lifestyle into consideration.

Choosing alternatives to HRT, such as menopause supplements, could help you to start feeling like your old self again in a more natural way, but it’s important to think about changes you can make across your whole lifestyle if you want to lead the healthiest life possible.

Is There a Way to Manage Your Breast Cancer Risk?

Breast cancer can be genetic, with carriers of the BRCA2 gene significantly more likely to develop breast cancer in the future - there are tests that can be carried out to determine this risk, while preventative surgery can help to lower it.

However, with Professor Rymer highlighting that alcohol consumption and obesity can potentially be more dangerous for women’s health than certain menopause treatments, it’s vital to monitor your alcohol intake and try to maintain a healthy weight throughout your life too.

A balanced diet and regular exercise can help with this, and you could find that losing weight helps with other symptoms of menopause too, for example by reducing the pressure on your bones and joints, lowering your osteoporosis risk as a result.

Meanwhile, alcohol should be consumed in moderation; in fact, cutting down on it could provide you with relief from hot flushes and night sweats too.

The natural menopause supplements that we stock are designed to be taken as part of a healthy lifestyle, so make sure you’re taking the bigger picture into account when trying to manage your symptoms, and always speak to your GP first if you have undergone treatment for breast cancer in the past or believe your risk is heightened.

Shop natural supplements to provide you with extra support during your 50s here.

Sources:

https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/information-support/facing-breast-cancer/going-through-treatment-breast-cancer/side-effects/menopausal-symptoms-after-treatment

https://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/breast-cancer-menopause#1

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06rw5bs

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/predictive-genetic-tests-cancer/