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Early Menstruation And Late Menopause

The timing of the beginning and end of a woman’s reproductive stage of life influences her risk of developing breast cancer.

There is a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer if you started your first menstrual period at an early age (younger than 12), or go into menopauseMenopause:
A natural part of a woman's aging process, when the ovaries start to make less estrogen and progesterone and the menstrual periods stop. This change typically occurs between the late 40s and mid-to-late 50s.
later than the average woman (over the age of 55).

This is because starting your period earlier and/or going into menopause later means that your body’s exposure to estrogen and other hormonesHormone:
A natural substance released into the body by the endocrine glands, such as the thyroid, adrenal gland or ovaries.
is longer than in the average woman. Breast tissue is susceptible to the effects of estrogenEstrogen:
A female sex hormone that is produced mainly in the ovaries. A woman’s levels of estrogen fluctuate throughout her life. Estrogen has been linked to the development of breast cancer and may promote the growth of cancer cells.
and estrogen exposure plays a role in the development of breast cancer.

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation encourages you to learn about your breast health, breast cancer risk, ways to reduce your risk, and the benefits and limitations of screening for the earlier detection of breast cancer. To inform your decisions, you may also find it helpful to speak to a health care provider.


Sources:

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. (2010). Earlier Detection and Diagnosis of Breast Cancer: A Report from It’s About Time! A Consensus Conference. Toronto, ON: Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. 

Susan G. Komen. Age at First Period. Accessed February 21, 2014.

Susan G. Komen. Age at Menopause. Accessed February 21, 2014.