Hormones and breast cancer

hormones and breast cancer

Hormones and breast cancer 

The female hormones estrogen and progesterone are risk factors for breast cancer. This risk applies not only to hormone-sensitive breast cancer, but to all types.

The longer breasts are exposed to these hormones, the greater the risk of breast cancer. Therefore, there is an increased risk of breast cancer for women who:

  • Had their first menstrual period at a young age (before age 12), especially in combination with a late menopause (after age 55)
  • Having no or few pregnancies
  • Having a first child after the age of 35
  • No or short breastfeeding
  • Swallowing the contraceptive pill
  • Being overweight
  • Use hormone preparations against menopausal complaints
  • Being a DES mother and between 45 and 65 years old

Early menstruation and late menopause

With a first menstrual period before the age of 12, a woman is more likely to develop breast cancer. Women who enter the menopause after the age of 55 also have an increased risk. During the woman’s fertile period, the ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone.

Few or no pregnancies

Women who have never been pregnant have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who have children. Multiple pregnancies even lower the risk of breast cancer. During pregnancy, the ovaries produce little estrogen.

A first child after the 35th year

Women who have their first child after the age of 35 have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer. They have about the same risk as women without children. Women who have their first child before age 32 have a lower risk compared to women without children.

No or short breastfeeding

Women who have not breastfed or have breastfed for a short time have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who have breastfed for 4 months or longer. The risk decreases further with a longer breastfeeding period (also added to multiple children). The younger a woman is when she breastfeeds, the lower the risk. During breastfeeding, the ovaries produce less or no hormones.

Use of contraceptive pill

The contraceptive pill contains counterfeit estrogen and progesterone. By swallowing these, the ovaries think that there are already enough female hormones in the body and they do not produce them themselves.

The dose of hormones in the pill is much higher than the amount of hormones the ovaries would normally release. Taking the pill increases the risk of breast cancer, but it is still small.

The risk of breast cancer increases after the menopause. That is why women from the age of 50 are advised to opt for a different form of contraception.

Women with a hereditary predisposition to breast cancer have a greatly increased risk of developing breast cancer. The advice for them is to discuss the use of the contraceptive pill with the doctor.

It is not known whether there is an increased risk of breast cancer for other hormonal contraceptives (for example, hormonal IUD and contraceptive ring). The dose of hormones is often lower. Also, the release of hormones is local, near the ovaries.


Being overweight increases the risk of breast cancer. A woman then has a 17% chance of developing breast cancer during her lifetime, instead of 13%. You are overweight if you have a BMI above 25.

This increased risk occurs especially after the menopause. The fat tissue in the abdomen then starts to produce estrogen. The more adipose tissue, the more estrogen is produced and therefore the higher the risk of breast cancer.

Hormone pills for menopausal complaints

Some women use drugs to reduce menopausal symptoms. These hormone pills contain estrogen and sometimes also progesterone.

The risk of breast cancer increases with long-term use of the hormone preparations. This increased risk decreases if the hormone pills are stopped.

Hormone pills administered during IVF treatment do not increase the risk of breast cancer.

Women who have previously had hormone-sensitive breast cancer are advised not to take hormone pills against menopausal symptoms. This is to reduce the recurrence of breast cancer.

DES mother between 45 and 65 years

DES mothers are women who have taken the DES drug during their pregnancy. This drug was prescribed to pregnant women at risk of miscarriage between 1947 and 1976. DES aimed to prevent a miscarriage.

DES is a hormone similar to estrogen. DES mothers between the ages of 45 and 65 have an increased risk of breast cancer.

It is not yet clear whether DES daughters (women born from a pregnancy in which the mother has taken DES) also have an increased risk of breast cancer.

we created this website to make more woman aware of breast cancer and to take a good look on the way you life and what you can do to improve your way of living healthy wise .

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