I found a small lump in my breast when Immy was just four weeks old. As a new mother, with hormones raging, I instantly thought of Heidi Middleton of Sass & Bide and her battle with breast cancer, detected just days after the birth of her second child. And I was scared. I cried and I worried and I convinced myself that I had breast cancer.
The six hour long long appointment of poking and prodding, ultrasound, and eventual biopsy was both emotionally and physically tough, especially with leaking breastfeeding breasts and a six week old baby in tow. Following an anxious wait for results, I was fortunately given the all clear. The lump was apparently an abscess which had hardened into a hard, solid ball and I was to keep an eye on it and most likely over time it would disappear. Which it did.
Last night I came across some recent research reporting that new statistics out of the UK suggest that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer. Is it only me who thinks, “Wow, that is so high.” And although the risk continues to rise more rapidly for women 50 years of age (and over), I am just a breath shy 39 where the risk is just 1 in 215. I am not a big fan of even those types of odds. That is a lot of women around my age with breast cancer.
“Alarming new figures suggest one in eight women will develop breast cancer, with scientists fearing that a culmination of obesity, alcohol and delayed motherhood are partly to blame.
Experts have described the statistics as a ‘wake up call’ and say the disease could be avoided if women took more care of their health by drinking less, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.
‘It is also linked to a woman’s reproductive history,’ says Dr Kat Arney, from Cancer Research UK. ‘If a woman starts having children earlier in life she is less at risk.’ Scientists believe the sex hormone oestrogen, which declines during pregnancy, triggers some forms of breast cancer. Women who delay motherhood are therefore exposed to oestrogen for a higher proportion of their lives putting them at higher risk.”
The Cancer Research UK findings that having fewer children later in life also increases an individual’s risk of breast cancer is certainly interesting for myself and my fellow Gen Y mothers (again with the guilt and regret about being an older mother!). Other lifestyle related factors include drinking in moderation (not an issue for me personally) and maintaining a healthy weight through sensible eating and exercise – the eating I am already starting to take care of and exercise is next on my list!
And at a risk of over sharing, I will say that after reading this research, this morning in the shower I checked my breasts. Can I kindly suggest that you do too?