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Pregnancy and cancer

A groundbreaking study funded by Action Against Cancer has examined how having children affects a woman’s risk of breast cancer. The team has published their findings in a paper in the prestigious journal Nature.

In this study led by Dr Biancastella Cereser’s team at Imperial College London, exciting new insights have emerged about how genetics can affect the risk of breast cancer. This study aims to uncover the connection between pregnancy and breast health, helping us understand why some women who have had children might have different risks for breast cancer compared to those who haven't.

As more and more women decide to become mothers later in life, this research aimed to understand the genetic mysteries that play a role in breast cancer risk. By looking closely at the DNA of healthy women, including both younger and older mums, the scientists wanted to figure out how changes happen in breast tissue over time, especially after pregnancy.

The study found something really important: pregnancy can actually change the genetic makeup of breast tissue. Just like wrinkles appear on our skin as we get older, changes can also happen in the DNA of our breast cells over time. But this study shows that pregnancy adds an extra twist to these changes. In older women who become mothers for the first time, the number of these changed cells gets bigger compared to younger mums or older women without kids. This might mean that older first-time mums could have a higher chance of having harmful changes in their breast cells compared to other women.

This new knowledge can empower women to make informed choices about their reproductive health and to take steps to prevent and detect breast cancer early.

Professor Stebbing, who oversaw the four-year study, said:

"With this kind of information, we can start to identify the specific women who need to have their breasts closely monitored during pregnancy. Secondly, this data brings us another step forward to a future where cancer patients will be prescribed medication specifically suited to their genes."

At the end of the paper, the team "thank the late Hilary Craft OBE, the visionary founder of Action Against Cancer, whose unwavering support made this research possible."

This breakthrough received considerable news coverage
Daily Express:

The Telegraph:

National World:


Motherhood In Style:

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