Endocrine Factors

A number of endocrine factors have been linked to the incidence of breast cancer.5,6 Many of these relate to the total duration of menstrual life. Early menarche (prior to age 12) and late menopause (after age 55) increase a women's breast cancer risk. Similarly, investigators have reported that bilateral oophorectomy prior to age 35 reduces the relative risk of developing breast cancer. Nulliparity and a late age at first birth (greater than or equal to 30 years) have been reported to increase the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer twofold.

Long-term use of hormone-replacement therapy and concurrent use of progestins appear to contribute to breast cancer risk. The use of postmenopausal estrogen-replacement therapy in women with a history of breast cancer generally is considered contraindicated. However, most experts believe that the safety and benefits of low-dose oral contraceptives currently outweigh the potential risks and that changes in the prescribing practice for the use of oral contraceptives are not warranted. Oral contraceptives are known to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by about 40% and the risk of endometrial cancer by about 60%.

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