According to recent information, having uterine fibroids appears to be one of the important risk factors for breast cancer. Now, these tumors that develop in your uterus aren’t cancerous on their own. But women with fibroids appear to have higher instances of developing breast cancer. How could that be? Let’s break down what we know so far.
Are Fibroids Risk Factors for Breast Cancer? What the Science Says
According to one study in the Journal of Gynecological Oncology, women diagnosed with fibroids have a higher breast cancer risk. These findings came after researchers accessing Taiwan’s National Health Insurance database reviewed the medical histories for 22,001 women with fibroids, and 85,356 women without these uterine growths.
What did they find? Women with fibroids had a 35% higher rate of developing breast cancer than women without these growths. Now, that statistic could be scary, especially if you’re living with this diagnosis. But here’s some good news: while those fibroids appeared to be a risk factor for breast cancer, fibroid-sufferers who developed breast cancer had much lower instances of dying from the disease.
What’s the Connection between Breast Cancer and Fibroids?
There’s not yet a definitive answer that explains why women get fibroids. Yet, we do know that estrogen balances in the body play a role in your fibroid risk factors. Additionally, early onset of menstruation, along with exposure to certain chemicals while in-utero, your race and your genetic history also play a role in your likelihood of developing these uterine tumors.
Likewise, research suggests that there are links between your breast cancer risk and the amount of estrogen and progesterone produced in your body. Plus, your family history, along with early menstrual onset or even early menopause could increase your risk.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer and Fibroids: How to Reduce Your Risk
Want to reduce your risk for fibroids and breast cancer? Start with these simple yet effective lifestyle changes, designed to balance your hormone levels.
First, tamp down on alcohol use: excessive drinking interferes with your body’s abiliy to metabolize estrogen. You can also get regular exercise and watch what you eat, since women with higher Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) have higher estrogen levels.
Finally, try to avoid exposure to chemicals that can increase estrogen in your body, including those in certain African-American hair products and those incorporated in many plastic containers.
Signs and Symptoms
Knowing what to watch for will help you detect either condition in the early stages, when you’re least likely to experience serious health complications.
Symptoms of fibroids:
- Prolonged, heavy periods
- Bladder pressure that leads to frequent urination
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Painful sex
- Constipation and bloating
- Infertility or miscarriages
Symptoms of breast cancer
Common signs to watch for include:
- A lump or mass in your breast or armpit.
- Pain surrounding your nipple.
- Breast tissue that thickens or swells
- Changes to the color or texture of the skin on your breast
Reduce Risk Factors for Breast Cancer with Proactive Medical Care
Now, addressing symptoms of breast cancer or fibroids immediately can help you get an immediate, accurate diagnosis, along with effective care.
But you don’t have to wait for signs of trouble to start thinking about breast cancer. At home-breast exams and annual mammograms, ultrasounds or MRIs can help with early detection. Along with regular visits to your healthcare provider, they are an important part of managing your risk factors for breast cancer.
Equally, it’s important to understand your risk for fibroids and get proactive about your health. Then, if you’ve received a fibroids diagnosis, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our Dallas area specialists to discuss your non-surgical treatment options.