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Breast cancer linked to late childbirth
 By James Meikle      

       Women who start their periods early, have no children, or bear children late,  are at increased risk of breast cancer, a study involving  91, 000 French women has confirmed. The research, the largest of its kind, looked at women between the ages 40 and 65. Most  were teachers.

        It suggested that women who had their first child in their thirties were 63% more likely to develop the disease before the menopause than those who gave birth before they were 22. They were also 35% more likely to get the disease after menopause.

 breast cancer

        A woman whose menstrual cycle began at the age of 15 was placed at only two-thirds the risk of premenopausal breast cancer of someone whose periods had started at 11.

        There was a decrease in risk of 7% for each year the onset  of periods was delayed. And the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer fell by 3% each year periods were  delayed, according to researchers at the Institut Gustave-Roussy, Paris.

        The study, based on questionnaires  returned by the women from 1990-97, also suggests that the risk of breast cancer occurring early or before menopause  is   cut by  2%  for each full-term pregnancy achieved. And for breast cancers 


 occurring after the menopause the risk falls by 9% for each pregnancy.

        The study is published in the British  Journal of  Cancer, whose editor, Robin      Weiss, cautions against raising fears. among career women who delay having children.

        You are not certain to get breast cancer because you don't have children, " he states. He points to the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, which is estimated at one in nine--and the rate is very low in young women, rising to one in 23 for those up to 60 and one in 10 up to age 85. The differences in risk revealed by the new study had to be placed in context, he said. 

        Francoise Clavel-Chapelon, author of the study, said:" This will help us to understand the mechanisms by which breast cancer develops.  It is especially interesting  that the influences on a woman's risk of breast cancer can be so different before and after she reaches the menopause. "

        Breast cancer is now the most common cancer in Britain, but three-quarters of those patients diagnosed survive at least five years. Nearly 40, 000 cases are disgnosed each year, and about four in five are postmenopausal women.


















































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