JOPLIN, MO.--- Medical studies show women who have not had children or who have kids later in life, are at a greater risk for developing breast cancer.
"Women who don't have children, their breast are constantly exposed to the hormonal changes, and as we go through menstrual cycles, they rise and fall of estrogen's, progesterone, the breast are much more exposed to that," said Doctor Anisa Hassan, Freeman Health System.
Doctor Anisa Hassan is a hematologist and oncologist at Freeman Health System in Joplin. She says a first pregnancy for a woman over the age of 30 increases the short term risk of breast cancer for five years after giving birth.
"When you are pregnant, the breast cells start to grow and divide and your breast get larger, and if there is a mutation, the mutated gene gets bigger," said Dr. Hassan.
The increased risk does not get offset by a long term benefit like it does for someone in their twenties. A younger woman still has the short term risk but she also has the long term benefits of not developing the disease.
"Especially if you have a second child, then the risk really goes down. If you have more than 5 children, you're risk of breast cancer goes down," said Dr. Hassan.
Doctor Hassan says a woman can not modify the increased risk if she has a child after the age of 30, but she can be aware of it.
"Be sure that you get your mammograms yearly. Do yourself examination, have some physician do a breast examine on you at least once a year. Those are the things they should be aware of," said Dr. Hassan.
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