Why so many young women being diagnosed?

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Question from Linda: Why are so many women in their 30s and 40s developing breast cancer? I'm 41and I know 5 other friends in my town who are battling breast cancer like me right now.
Answers - Lynn Schuchter Another great question with a lot of talented researchers trying to understand this issue. One question is whether it's true that there is an increase in incidence of breast cancer in younger women. More women are undergoing screening tests, and screening tests are becoming better. So it's possible we are just detecting more breast cancer because we're doing a better job of screening. But there is some research looking at one's total estrogen exposure in life. We know now that women begin menses earlier than they did 50 or 75 years ago and there has been interesting statistical modeling looking at greater lifetime exposure to estrogen that could explain the rising rates of breast cancer. Whether there are environmental factors that may be playing a role here, whether there are dietary changes, these have been postulated, but it's not clear how much these factors may affect this question. We just don't know the answers yet.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Young Women and Breast Cancer feautred Lynn Schuchter, M.D. and moderator Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. answering your questions about the special concerns of young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in April 2006.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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